Mnangagwa to commission Beitbridge optic fibre project
By Staff reporter | 12 Mar 2019 at 06:55hrs
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa will tomorrow commission the multi-million dollar optic fibre link in Beitbridge, which connects the border town with South Africa and the rest of the country via Bulawayo and Masvingo and Harare.
The link was constructed by TelOne with the aid of a Chinese loan to expand national broadband network and to enhance efficient communication countrywide. The investment would make Zimbabwe an Information Communication Technology (ICT) hub for Southern Africa.
ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister Kazembe Kazembe told journalists on the sidelines of the ongoing International Telecommunications (ITU) Study Group 13 in Victoria Falls yesterday that the project was ready for commissioning.
"The TelOne fibre optic project is already complete and we will be commissioning it on Wednesday in Beitbridge. This is a milestone because the link was long overdue and is a critical project because it makes us the ICT hub of Southern Africa," said Minister Kazembe.
He said the coming in of the fibre optic link will reduce operating costs for the network provider by 40 percent as well as cascade some benefits for consumers.
"We envisage a 40 percent drop in costs by TelOne as a carrier of carriers while the end user will also benefit from the development as it will improve speed," said the Minister.
Matabeleland South's Minister of State for Provincial Affairs Abednico Ncube said all was set for the President's visit.
"We have covered a lot of ground in terms of preparations and we expect everything to go according to plan. The state functions committee led by the Beitbridge District Administrator's office is busy on the ground.
"In addition, all the necessary stakeholders are putting final touches in line with their given responsibilities. This is a great development in terms of boosting our communication capacity as a country," he said.
The fibre optic link is a step in the right direction for Government roll out of e-services for its departments and Ministries. It will ensure connectivity between the country's border towns as well as enhance e-Government, which is currently being implemented at various levels.
Zimbabwe has been receiving fibre optic traffic direct from Mozambique and then linking major centres such as Mutare, Harare and Bulawayo.
Minister Kazembe said another fibre optic line was being worked on between Makuti-Chirundu as part of the Ministry of ICT 100-day plan.
Meanwhile, Government is also working on introducing 5G commercial network to enhance advanced speed in mobile broadband.
The 5G broadband is generation of broadband cellular network technology succeeding the current 4G, and has additional packages at advanced speed. At present the country uses 3G (voice, text and data) and 4G (voice, text, advanced data and internet) networks.
The 5G generation will likely be rolled out in 2020.
The ITU Study Group 13, which ends Thursday is, among other issues, discussing standards related to 5G roll out. However, Minister Kazembe bemoaned the existence of Western sanctions on Zimbabwe saying they were impacting negatively on a number of Government programmes by causing foreign currency shortages.