The third phase of Zimbabwe telecommunication firm NetOne’s national expansion project is scheduled to begin in earnest in Q1 2021 at an estimated cost of US$71-million. This as the government intensifies its focus on broadband infrastructure deployment and access to digital services.
ICT Minister Jenfan Muswere confirmed that the project was expected to upgrade the company’s national network coverage to 85% (up from the current 75% level), improve LTE (G40) coverage and kick-start 5G network ambitions to meet the increase in demand for data.
Muswere said: “As the government moves to implement the country’s national development strategy, connectivity by communication firms is important in assuring a reliable ITC services that support an inclusive digital economy.”
According to Muswere during phase III, towers will be provisioned for infrastructure sharing and optimal uilisation of resources and critical national infrastructure. “The focus will be data to enable internet capacity and preparedness to support the full implementation of the digital economy,” he said.
In his 2021 national budget, presented last week, Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube added: “The Netone National Expansion Project Phase II will kick off with loan funding from China Exim Bank amounting US$71-million of which, ZWL$1,9-billion will be disbursed during 2021 and mainly targeting the roll out of the 4G network around the country.”
He noted the important role played by technology amid COVID-19 and said infrastructure was the new frontier for driving change within economies and communities.
“A total of ZWL$8-billion will be invested in the sector during 2021, mainly targeting rollout of the optic fibre network, digital television services and access to online public services by citizens,” said Ncube.
Independent economist Perseverance Gwanyanya said, “The project will be rolled out in phases and communities in areas such as farms and rural areas will be the initial beneficiaries.”