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Mnangagwa to launch rail fibre optic project

by Staff reporter
07 Mar 2024 at 05:05hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa is expected to launch the second phase of the National Rail Fibre Optic Project today in Somabhula on the outskirts of Gweru, Midlands Province, as the country scales up the momentum in widening investments in modern technology to buttress economic growth.

The project is being implemented by continental telecoms infrastructure provider, Bandwidth and Cloud Services (BCS) Group, and is poised to make Zimbabwe the epicentre of internet traffic in Africa.

Over US$18 million was invested in the first phase of the project, which started in Beitbridge along the railway line past Rutenga, Somabhula, Bulawayo and Hwange to Victoria Falls.

The second phase has seen the network extending from Somabhula via Gweru to Harare, as well as Bulawayo-Plumtree and Harare to Mutare.

In the final phase, the fibre optic system will be installed from Rutenga to Chikwalakwala to cover the whole rail network in the country before extending into Zambia and the region.

The project dovetails with the Second Republic's philosophy of leaving no one and no place behind in the quest to realise an upper middle-income economy by 2030 and experts say this will greatly feed into the Africa Agenda 2063 as the project will extend to the whole continent following the existing rail network.

Today's launch will be held at Somabhula Secondary School where President Mnangagwa will also officially launch the National Information Communication Technology (ICT) Policy, Smart Zimbabwe 2030 Masterplan and the optic fibre backbone network.

ICT, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Dr Tatenda Matevera and the Minister of State for Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Cde Owen Ncube, visited the venue to assess the level of preparations ahead of the big event.

Dr Matevera said everything was in place for the big launch.

"President Mnangagwa is expected to officiate at the launch of the second phase of the rail fibre optic project that connects Zimbabwe and Africa with broadband services in Somabhula area about 45km from Gweru," she said.

"This is part of the smart economy and is also in line with NDS1, which speaks to enhancing investment and unlocking economic growth for meeting Vision 2030 goals."

The minister said the ICT policy also promotes the idea of coherence and collaboration, particularly within the Government, and is regarded as a key economic enabler with digitalisation seen as propelling production and services.

The world over, countries are embracing digitalisation, which has also been spurred by the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Zimbabwe, financial services providers rank among the top digitalised services.

In an interview, Minister Ncube said the province is excited to welcome President Mnangagwa for the programme, which he said was in line with Vision 2030.

"We are very excited and happy about this event, which will be graced by President Mnangagwa. With the fibre optic project, we are assured as a country that we will be connected with the rest of the world, which is a positive development in line with living no place and no one behind," he said.

The coming in of the Second Republic under President Mnangagwa has brought a huge transformation in Zimbabwe through people-centred and life-changing projects being implemented across the country, said Cde Ncube.

The BCS Group partnered with National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) and used advanced technology to dig and lay cables under the ground on the side of the railway line, ushering the country into the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

A locomotive pulling a 100-tonne machine is used to plough 1,2 metres deep on the side of the rail simultaneously laying a hollow duck pipe in which the cables will be running and there is a device that fills the trench immediately.

BCS is a wholesale carrier providing fibre connectivity solutions in Africa and came into Zimbabwe during the Covid-19 lockdown to connect places that have no roads hence using the railway network.

Through such projects, millions of Zimbabweans are expected to experience cheaper and faster network connectivity.

Source - The Chronicle