Over the past year, there was an increase in the number of people complaining about poor mobile and data network connectivity. The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has reported that the ongoing power cuts in the country are causing significant network disruptions. Zimbabwe has been grappling with prolonged power outages, with load-shedding lasting for hours on end. At the height of the power crisis in November and December of last year, the country experienced 20-hour blackouts.

Potraz states that these power outages are resulting in subpar network connectivity, particularly in areas where base stations depend on the national grid for electricity. Vengesai Magadzire, Head of Industry and Consumer Affairs at Potraz, spoke about the issue during a recent consumer engagement outreach program in Chiredzi. He noted that these network difficulties are coming at a time when many have adopted online businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Magadzire went on to say that, as a result of the power crisis, consumers are purchasing services from mobile network operators that they are not able to fully utilise. He explained that Potraz is aware of the challenges the country is facing and is committed to ensuring quality service provision. However, the power crisis has made it challenging for network service providers to run on generators around the clock, which is impacting the quality of telecommunications services.

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According to Magadzire, base stations typically rely on electricity rather than generators, and extended load-shedding periods of 18 or 24 hours can make it difficult to provide adequate services. Despite these challenges, Potraz is dedicated to ensuring that consumers receive the best services possible. Magadzire emphasized the need for consumer protection workshops in the rapidly changing information communication technology landscape, reiterating the director-general’s message on behalf of Potraz.