By Jacob Kudzayi Mutisi
ZIMBABWE is an information and communication technology (ICT) driven economy and the internet has become the backbone of the country.
All these years as the Zimbabwe Information and Communication Technology (ZICT) division of Zimbabwe Institution of Engineers, we were under the impression that Zimbabwe has several internet gateways, considering that we have several mobile network operators and telecommunication companies.
It was only on December 5, 2017 that we as engineers discovered that there is only one internet gateway into Zimbabwe after there was a complete internet shutdown on the day. The cause of the shutdown, according to reliable sources, was the severing of cables by a tractor in South Africa, not in Zimbabwe.
According to the source, the tractor was ploughing a field and cut a cable belonging to Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe, an internet service provider (ISP) in Zimbabwe.
This proved a point that all the other service providers are riding on Liquid, as they were not able to offer any services when the cable was cut.
What is even more worrisome is that the ICT sector and the country did not have a back-up system in place. They had to make a plan to connect through Botswana after six hours in order for Zimbabwe to have internet access. In Zimbabwe, banks use the internet as platform for transacting. With this shutdown, transactions were bound to be affected.
We are calling on all ISPs to come together and come up with a long-term solution to this problem in order for it not to recur.