12 December 2017

Zimbabwe: Liquid Telecoms Rapped for Lack of Back-Up Systems

Government is investigating Liquid Telecom for not having adequate back-up systems, resulting in an Internet glitch last week, which led to the disruption of social media applications. Information Communication Technology and Cyber Security Minister Supa Mandiwanzira said TelOne was adequately prepared for the glitch, but Liquid Telecom was found wanting in terms of back-up and its disaster recovery mechanism .

He said this in the National Assembly last week, while responding to a question from Zaka Central MP Cde Paradzai Chakona (Zanu-PF) who sought to know what policy Government has in place to ensure the country does not suffer Internet loss as what happened last week. Luveve MP Cde Ntandoyenkosi Mlilo (Zanu-PF) also wanted to know if Government had recovery plans to ensure that the country was not exposed.

"I did mention that TelOne, out of the disaster that we had yesterday (last week), was the only network that was still offering service although at a reduced capacity because they were now bringing bandwidth via Botswana and Mozambique. "However, they also suffered the same fate as Liquid Telcom on the Beitbridge route. So, in terms of TelOne, they were adequately prepared and it is Liquid Telecoms that was not adequately prepared," said Minister Mandiwanzira.

"It is a licensing expectation that you must have redundancy that is not following the same route. I have asked the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to investigate how the redundancy by Liquid Telecoms on the Beitbridge route was affected yesterday (last week). I do not have the report yet, but when we get it, we will be very happy to share it with Parliament."

He said the fibre optic cable was cut off by a tractor that was working on the side road in Matabeleland South. "Coincidentally, on the same day, City of Harare workers who were putting sewage pipes underground in Kuwadzana, also cut off the fibre optic cable belonging to TelOne and also disrupted services," he said.

"Therefore, I think it is important that the operators are encouraged to have redundancy, which does not necessarily follow the same route. It is our understanding that Liquid Telecom only brings their bandwidth via the cable from Beitbridge and their redundancy is also on the same route.

"Thankfully, TelOne, which is owned by Government, brings bandwidth via Beitbridge and also brings bandwidth via Plumtree through Botswana and via Forbes Border Post from the undersea cables on the Mozambique side.

"It is our view that as a result of the lessons learnt yesterday (last week), Government will insist on -- especially Government owned companies expanding their redundancy capacity beyond the two or three lines that are available to them."

Responding to another question, Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Minister Retired Air Marshal Perrance Shiri said the Tobacco and Industry Marketing Board got $8 million from tobacco levy being collected by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority.

"No progress has been made because the Constitution of the Afforestation Fund is yet to be presented to and registered with Parliament as per the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act, (Chapter 22 (19)) by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning," said Minister Shiri.

He was responding to a question from Chegutu West MP Cde Dexter Nduna (Zanu-PF) who wanted to know how much had been collected in tobacco levy towards funding the Afforestation Fund. He also wanted to know whether TIMB has made any progress in the establishment of woodlots from the Afforestation Fund.

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