Equipment has started arriving in the country for the third phase of NetOne’s US$71 million mobile broadband expansion that will see construction of over 260 new base stations, with President Mnangagwa expected to commission the roll out of the new expansion.
Deputy Minister of Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Dingumuzi Phuti said this in the National Assembly on Thursday last week.
Responding to a report by the joint committee on ICTs, Postal and Courier Services and that of Primary and Secondary Education on access to e-learning in rural areas during the Covid-19 induced lockdowns, Deputy Minister Phuti said Government was working flat out to ensure increased mobile network coverage, especially in the rural areas.
The measures are being done through collaboration between the Ministry of ICT’s and Courier Services, Post and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe and service providers.
“We have also started receiving equipment for the MBB Phase III especially targeting the rural areas,” he said.
“This will enhance network coverage and ensure more areas can access services. To emphasise, I can confidently say that the President is going to be commissioning the equipment for the roll out which will see construction of over 260 base stations spread out across the country.”
Deputy Minister Phuti said NetOne had upgraded 75 base stations from 2G to 3G and a further 60 to 4G.
The MBB Phase III project is a strategic cooperation project between China and Zimbabwe.
Huawei, one of the leading telecommunications companies, will be the technical partner for the project.
The project is expected to increase the operator’s national coverage from about 75 percent to 85 percent, improve 4G coverage and will also see the introduction of 5G to cater for increased data demand.
The NetOne expansion project began in 2011 with Phase 1.
Building a vibrant digital economy is a vital component towards Government’s goal of achieving a middle income economy by 2030.
The implementation of the National Development Strategy 1 ensuring increased industry connectivity is critical in ensuring a reliable, affordable, accessible and ubiquitous ICTs services that support an inclusive digital economy.
Deputy Minister Phuti said his ministry was working with that of Primary and Secondary Education in capacity building of teachers, especially in rural areas to ensure they are conversant with ICT appliances that are used in e-learning.
Government has already begun implementation of the e-learning strategy to mitigate against disruptions of the schools’ calendar and include improved connectivity of institutions and provision of requisite ICT gadgets.