ZIMBABWE’S State-owned telecoms operator, TelOne, says it targets to commence the first stage of its network modernisation project under a $98-million loan from China Exim Bank before December this year.
BY MTHANDAZO NYONI
Zimbabwe and China signed an agreement for the loan in December last year during the visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Part of the modernisation plan entails replacing the company’s entire network and embarking on a backbone fibre optic transmission and broadband access project, which is integral to the telecom firm’s bid to become a fully-fledged technological company, offering enhanced data services above its traditional voice service.
In an interview with NewsDay on the sidelines of the company’s litter bins handover and clean-up campaign on Friday in Bulawayo, TelOne managing director Chipo Mtasa said the quasi-government institution would start drawing down the $98m loan facility before end of 2016.
“We have finished the paperwork and we have the first phase of the equipment, which has now been manufactured in China. We are hoping that it can be deployed before December into Zimbabwe and the first sites that will be benefiting is Harare and Bulawayo,” she said.
Mtasa said TelOne was on a transformation roadmap in the wake of voice revenue declining.
“As you know, voice revenues are on the decline significantly. So we can no longer rely on voice revenues to sustain us. And what we have said as TelOne is that let’s broaden our business and service offering. That’s why broadband is a big aspect of that and we want to offer solution to business around the broadband service line,” she said.
The TelOne boss added that with a $98m project, which is a mordernised telecommunications service offering, they would be able to integrate voices, broadband and data services — all from the same platform.