THE Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) yesterday assured Binga residents that they would soon enjoy use of postal and telecommunications services just like other citizens despite living in one of the country’s remotest areas.
Addressing hundreds of Binga residents at the launch of the first-ever joint Potraz, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) consumer education and awareness campaign at Binga Centre yesterday, Potraz’s competition, economics, tariffs and competition director Hilda Mutseyekwa said people in remote areas should enjoy the same rights as their counterparts living in areas with better infrastructure.
Mutseyekwa said to ensure that Binga is not left behind in terms of access to information technology, Potraz had set up a community information centre at the local post office, which will soon provide internet access to residents.
Mutseyekwa said the ICT industry is playing a vital role in aiding socio-economic development in this fourth industrial revolution where everything is ICT-driven.
“The industry is moving at a rapid pace and there has been a propagation of a number of consumer issues which have resultantly augmented global transformation,” she said.
“This has been brought about by the emergence of new technologies like the internet of things, big data, artificial intelligence and block chain, among others.
This demands a holistic approach to counter and safeguard consumer rights through regular communication to consumers so as to deter confusion and misinformation in the market. Moreover, in a rapidly changing technological environment, information asymmetries may lead to increased consumer
vulnerabilities, hence consumers need to be educated and this is why we have embarked on this Programme.”
Mutseyekwa also called on regulators, consumer organisations, business and consumers to sustainably collaborate along the value chain.
“The consumer voice should be included from the design stages, until the final product/service is on the market just as it is prioritised in coming up with
consumer protection mechanisms,” she said.
CCZ executive director, Rosemary Siyachitema said consumers have the right to information and education to ensure they are not kept in the dark. Siyachitema commended Potraz for this initiative and assured the nation that the consumer and community engagement outreach programme will be rolled over to other provinces.
RBZ head of oversight and risk management Douglas Muranda said the central bank was promoting the use of electronic transactions as it does not want people to travel long distances for financial transactions.
Residents complained that elderly people living in rural areas were finding it difficult to replace lost phone lines because mobile operators have a few shops in the district.
Others complained that their data bundles were expiring before use because of load-shedding while poor network coverage was a cause for concern, especially in areas along the Zambezi Valley. Mutseyekwa said Potraz was engaging service providers on the issue of data bundles and shortage of shops to offer services in rural areas.