Most rural communities in developing countries such as Zimbabwe are underserved
and/or unserved with regard to telecommunication connectivity. Governments in
developing countries are also under‐resourced to provide adequate digital infrastructure.
Thus, community networks are increasingly seen as viable alternatives to bridge
the infrastructure gap in Africa. However, new infrastructure interventions in developing
countries face many challenges including complex interventions stemming from
complex policies inserted into complex sociopolitical environments. The success of
community networks in other African countries prompts this investigation into the
potential of transferring the community network approach to Zimbabwe. The objective
of this article is to frame how context impacts development of digital infrastructure.
Zimbabwe's telecommunication regulatory framework is on the verge of
countenancing the development of community networks, and for this reason, there
is need for research to inform would‐be investors, policy makers, and other stakeholders
such as academia, NGOs, and communities themselves, on how the sociopolitical
and economic environment impact these efforts. This is important because
successful deployment of a community network may result in improved community
development, eg, in food security, health, and education.
This work was supported by the Makerere University School of Public Health's ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and Partners. The primary data collection
was made possible by the generous support of the American people, through the United States Agency for International Development
(USAID)—(project ID AID‐OAA‐A‐13‐00018).