Zimbabwe has begun national preparatory meetings for the World Radio communications Conference 2023 (WRC-23), whose focus will entail accelerating the digital transition of economies, industries and digital inclusion of millions of people across the continent.
The WRC-23 is scheduled for November 2023. The two-day national consultative meeting will discuss radio frequency spectrum — the life blood of present day connected society and an increasingly digital economy across the globe.
Speaking at the preparatory meeting, Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) director general Dr Gift Machengete acknowledged the glaring digital gap currently obtaining between urban and rural set-ups.
This, he said, needed to be addressed with haste for every Zimbabwean to benefit from the digital transformation currently taking place in Zimbabwe and across the globe, accelerated by the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are holding this meeting in the middle of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has caused unprecedented human carnage and devastation of economies and livelihoods. As we look forward and contemplate the “building back” era, we face the reality of a widening digital divide between the “haves and the have-n ots” and between the urban and rural segments of our populations. We need to urgently resolve these social vices.
“We need to move with speed to address these barriers and inequalities of our time. It is therefore imperative that the policy and regulatory environment is modernised in order to make it attractive for investment to flow into those areas that are currently being shunned for one reason or the other.
“It is also imperative that those privileged with the assignment of key spectrum resources, use such resources taking into account the need to create a more equal society — a society where no one is left behind in terms of connectivity and in terms of the access to the social benefits that are brought about by the digital economy,” he said during the two-day meeting that started yesterday.
In line with this, Dr Machengete said the regulator would continue playing its part in ensuring that all citizens benefit from resources falling under its purview.
The consultative discourse is a culmination of World Radio communications Conference-2019, held in Sham el Sheik, Egypt, in 2019.
As such, Zimbabwe is preparing for the next conference in 2023 where submissions will be made to further the interests of the country.
“It is therefore imperative that, as a nation, we come together and ponder over how we can best leverage on decisions taken at the immediate past WRC and how best we can influence discussions at the next WRC, in order to further the interests of this great nation, Zimbabwe.
“Accordingly, ladies and gentlemen, this meeting, which spans two days, is aimed at reviewing the outcomes of WRC-19 and present the agenda for WRC-23 — with a view to establishing structures that would help us, as a nation, better prepare for that Conference,” said Dr Machengete.
Prior to the previous conference, Africa was advocating for identification of a number of millimetric wave bands for IMT 2020/5G. This objective was driven by the fact that, for broadband connectivity, Africa is largely dependent on wireless technologies and the situation is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future.
This objective was largely achieved, as the 26 GHz, 40 GHz and 66 GHz bands, among others, were identified for IMT under technical and regulatory conditions that are considerably reasonable and practicable from the perspective of most developing nations.
Additionally, SADC countries, Zimbabwe included, won the right to deploy outdoor Radio LANs in certain portions of the 5 GHz band, a decision that is key to rural connectivity in developing countries.
Accordingly, soon after WRC 19, POTRAZ quickly moved to leverage availability of this band together with attendant technologies, to adjust regulatory conditions in the band in order to facilitate utilisation of the band in the provision of broadband connectivity to rural schools, clinics and other amenities.