Government increases Universal Services Fund contributions to 1,5 percent

Government increases Universal Services Fund contributions to 1,5 percent

ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira

GOVERNMENT has increased to 1,5 percent, contributions by licensed telecommunications companies to the Universal Services Fund (USF) from 0,5 percent. This move is meant to expand tele-access infrastructure across the country.

The telecommunications USF is a pool of money into which the country’s licensed telecommunications companies contribute a stipulated percentage calculated from their total annual revenues. The fund was established to finance the expansion of telecommunications services in outlying areas, which are under serviced.

Other purposes of the USF include assisting in the training of personnel in the provision of postal and telecommunication services and contributing towards research and development in the field
of postal and telecommunication services.

Meanwhile, through a statutory instrument gazetted last Friday, government regularised the increase which it said it was done in consultation with industry players.

In an interview, ICT Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said the 1.5% contribution was actually lower than the initial 2% and all licenced telecommunication players are agreeable to the increase.

“The increase in in line with our aim to bring communication infrastructure to marginalised areas through construction of infrastructure as well as development of software in the country,” he said.

Mandiwanzira said there are many Zimbabweans who have potential and innovation to develop new software and in return creating employment.

“A lot of young Zimbabweans are using various applications such as Google or WhatsApp, but in that instance, it is google and WhatsApp who make money, so we want a situation where we can finance our own innovation at local level to create value in the economy,” he said.

Mandiwanzira said the increase in contributions was done in consultation with industry players, with some even going to the extent of wanting the fund to be renamed to another name that will be supported by an Act of Parliament.

“They are fully in support of the contributions as they also share the same vision of expansion to the various parts of the country,” he said.

The Universal Service Fund was established by an Act of Parliament [Postal and Telecommunications Act (Chap.12:05)] of 2000 and the fund was vested in the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) as a trustee. FinX

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