Abigail Mawonde, Harare Bureau
NetOne, the country’s second largest mobile network by subscription, has signed a $71 million funding agreement with Huawei Technologies International of China for the expansion of its mobile phone network into the rural areas.
The loan deal was signed on December 31, 2017.
NetOne acting chief executive officer Mr Brian Mutandiro represented the company while Mr Albert Yan, the local managing director of Huawei Technologies, signed on behalf of the Chinese telecomms giant.
The deal between NetOne and Huawei is seen as a seal of strong Sino-Zimbabwe cooperation, particularly in the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector, which will promote economic development.
“We are grateful to Huawei for this facility. As part of our 100-day plan, we included accessibility to rural communities as a major quick-win and with the signing of this contract, we are happy to say that we will deliver this goal,” said Mr Mutandiro.
“We want to thank the Government for facilitating this arrangement and it is now for us to deliver.”
The deal was funded from a concessional loan from China Exim Bank.
It is envisaged that the funds will be used for network expansion and modernisation which includes, among other deliverables within the first 100 days, the construction of 250 rural base stations that will bring mobile cellular services to the rural communities, including mobile banking services, internet connectivity and high speed data products.
Mr Mutandiro indicated improving connectivity and promoting mobile payment solutions was one of the quick-win projects adopted by Cabinet led by Information and Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister Supa Mandiwanzira and NetOne as the implementing State firm.
It is envisaged that the new project will increase economic opportunities in rural areas.