Zimbabwe: ICT Vandals Threaten Development - Potraz

Vandalism of Information Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure must be reported promptly as such destruction threatens economic transformation given the key role ICTs have taken since the outbreak of Covid-19, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has said.

Thieves target all equipment, but focus on stealing copper cables, generators at base stations, generator fuel and solar panels, knocking the stations off air.

ICTs are now used to conduct meetings, with companies and even across borders after movement has been restricted to reduce the spread of the pandemic.

Speaking during a consumer awareness programme on Star FM yesterday, Potraz head of consumer affairs and publicity Dr George Manyaya lamented the increase in cases of vandalism and theft of ICT infrastructure, especially as ICTs have become essential in national development.

Vandalism and theft of telecommunications infrastructure is worrying and has to be stopped as it has caused considerable losses to the country and service providers, said Dr Manyaya.

"All hands must be on deck to combat this menace. The National Development Strategy 1 that was launched by His Excellency President Mnangagwa has 14 key priorities of which the digital economy is one of the key pillars. Hence we must accelerate digital transformation through enabling access to all corners of life and this entails investing in telecommunications infrastructure. We must add more towers and we need to ensure they are not vandalised."

Dr Manyaya said vandals were targeting copper cables, generators that power base stations, generator fuel, and solar panels, among other critical equipment.

"All these acts of vandalism require costly remedial action before the sites are brought back to provide the essential services that our communities require. This vandalism has resulted in disruption of network availability, losses in revenue and increased costs of replacing the lost equipment. Vandalism adversely affects economic activities of people who depend on telecoms for their livelihood," he said.

Dr Manyaya said citizens must report all acts of vandalism and jealously guard infrastructure in their communities.

"It is pertinent to note that vandals are not spirits but human beings who have continuously used the cover of darkness to perpetrate their heinous crime.

"Accordingly, we need to form community neighbourhood watch committees and implement a multi-stakeholder approach. Those who steal should rot in jail as they are doing a disservice to the industry, economy and the community at large.

"Let us report them to the nearest police station.

"Theft and vandalism crimes carry stiffer penalties and there is need for strict enforcement."

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