from MTHULISI SIBANDA in Cape Town, South Africa
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – ZIMBABWE has completed a US$218 million rollout of 4G network as government sustains its policy to facilitate the delivery of a digital society as a key component for economic growth.
The Southern African country has also embarked on a $100 million project to ensure rollout of optic fibre, to attain these targets.
Supa Mandiwanzira, the Minister of Information, Communication, Technology and Courier Services, disclosed the achievements at the ICT Africa 2017 in Cape Town, South Africa on Tuesday.
The minister also disclosed the government had raised $7 million to upskill the country’s youth with the requisite skills to ensure they play a leading role in the information and communications industry growth.
Mandiwanzira also disclosed the government of President Robert Mugabe has transformed over 200 derelict Post Office outlets into community centres which have been equipped with computers and connected to the internet to ensure access to ICT and e-government services to citizens.
“SADC (Southern African Development Community) has outlined a target to ensure 80 percent of the population access ICTs by 2020 but our government has gone beyond that and set targets of 100 percent,” Mandiwanzira said.
He was speaking at the event held under the theme Building a Better Connected Africa.
Government owns NetOne, the mobile network operator, and TelOne, a fixed line provider, which at the forefront of the aforementioned projects.
Mandiwanzira said with post offices becoming white elephants with the advent of ICTs, government was making the most of the structures it had invested over the years and turn them into useful facilities.
“The letter, as a means of communication, has been dying, hence the conversion of the old post offices into community centres to expand access to ICTs. This is the first step to ensure citizes have access to government services (e-government),” he said.
He spoke highly of the country’s telecommunications industry, which are among a few that have survived severe economic problems over the years.
The government has at times intervened in the sector particularly amid intense competition from the country’s three mobile network operators-Econet, NetOne and Telecel.
Mandiwanzira disclosed the companies had been reluctant to share infrastructure.
“There had been selfishness in terms of towers and length of fibre. A situation whereby in one site, you get three towers, three generators and three security guards is unsustainable. Private players are now seeing the benefits of infrastructure sharing and the cost to the consumer is reduced,” he said.
– CAJ News