INFORMATION Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Supa Mandiwanzira, yesterday commended TelOne for the successful implementation of the $98 million national broadband network modernisation project, which is already transforming the parastatal’s operations.
Using funding which was sourced from China through Government facilitation, TelOne in March this year successfully established a $4 million state of the art data centre and rolled out a 330km fibre optic project linking Bulawayo and Beitbridge among other projects.
The investments have transformed the face of TelOne, which of late has recorded increased business with data services now contributing an average of 40 percent of the revenue for the company that used to rely on fixed telephone operations.
Minister Mandiwanzira, Permanent secretary Engineer Sam Kundishona, TelOne managing director Chipo Mtasa and top ministry officials and company executives conducted a tour of the fibre project along the Bulawayo-Beitbridge road yesterday where contractors were busy at work. The minister was also shown state of the art equipment at upgraded exchange units in Esigodini and Gwanda.
“We congratulate the management of TelOne on the successful implementation of the $98 million project part of which is the laying of a 330km fibre between Beitbridge and Bulawayo. What we have seen so far demonstrates the commitment of the company, the contractors and the sub contractors in ensuring this project is delivered on time,” said Mandiwanzira.
“We are very impressed that the work is going on very well and that it is almost being completed in terms of laying fibre. What I found very interesting was the use of local labour in some areas instead of using machinery. Locals are given an opportunity to dig and earn a dollar, $10 dollars a day for 10 metres. That is important because we have a commitment as Government to ensure that we create employment and that we leave part of the revenue from investments to communities.”
The minister said the fibre project was significant in bringing broadband to southern parts of the country, which creates opportunities and enhances service delivery for Government institutions, the business community and access to communication at individual level.
“We have a target as Government that by the year 2020, at least 80 percent of our population must have access to broadband, and this project helps us achieve that. This also demonstrates that Government is not just talking but putting into action things that it talks about,” he said.
Mandiwanzira said infrastructure development was a key pillar under Zim-Asset as it lays the foundation for increased attraction to investors.
“This is not about building roads but putting communication infrastructure at the door step of our people. This fibre optic cable will help us achieve that much faster,” he said.
The minister also said the fibre project was expected to result in lowering of data prices, which operators blame on the high cost of bringing bandwidth into the country.
“I can tell you once this project is commissioned it will certainly bring the price of data down for TelOne. If you choose to go to expensive ones, it’s your choice. This will cut short the distances and also make TelOne self reliant in terms of its own infrastructure as they are now going to be able to utilise their own internal resources.
“This benefit is not just for TelOne but must trickle down to the consumer who is complaining of high prices,” the minister added.