Mobile telecommunications company, NetOne, has commissioned a base station at Silonkwe Primary School in Matobo bringing connectivity to more 40 000 villagers in Matabeleland South who for a long time have not been accessing any mobile phone connection.
Zimbabwe has three mobile phone companies namely NetOne, Econet and Telecel, whose access is predominantly enjoyed by urban dwellers.
Speaking during the commissioning ceremony, Thursday, NetOne acting chief executive, Chipo Jaisson, in a speech read on her behalf by Raphael Mushanawani from the same company, said their mission was to transform lives and develop communities through communication solutions.
"I stand before you today, humbled by the esteemed guests that have come through to witness the commissioning of the Silonkwe Base Station, which is located 28.5km South West of Kezi, in Matobo District, one of the 7 districts in Matabeleland South Province," said Jaisson.
"This site is mounted on a 60m long lattice-type mast, giving it a great coverage area of a radius of about 40 km. I am happy to advise that this site is providing coverage to at least five wards within the Matobo District namely, Ward 9,11,12, and parts of Mangwe District."
She said some of the critical community amenities were also receiving coverage and internet access from Silonkwe site such as Mbembeswana Rural Clinic, Silonkwe Primary & Secondary School, Mbembeswana Primary school, St Anna Secondary School, Guardian Angel Primary School, Mbuso Primary School, Sontala Secondary School and Mbembeswana stores.
The site also shares traffic with Thornhill, Kezi, Gulamela, Maphisa and St Joseph Base Stations.
"Currently NetOne are the only ones providing network to this area, although this tower is already provisioned for Infrastructure sharing to allow other Telcos to follow suit," said Jaisson.
"Matobo District carries sentimental historical value for the country, as it is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, balancing rocks, rock paintings, as well as tourist attractions. NetOne is delighted to be part of that history now, as this infrastructure will certainly assist in the creation of a new legacy of growth and development, for the district and the province as a whole."
Speaking at the same occasion Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Jenfan Muswere, challenged the community to look after the infrastructure.
"As I officially commission Silonkwe site today, I hereby urge the community to safeguard the infrastructure to ensure that it is not vandalised," he said.
"We look forward to more interventions and network expansion from NetOne, as well as other players within the ICT sector."
Matabeleland South provincial affairs Minister, Abednico Ncube, and Chief Bango under whose jurisdiction Silonkwe falls, paid tribute to NetOne for bringing development to the remote area.