By NQOBANI NDLOVU
STATE-run mobile telecommunications company, NetOne, has appealed to government to avail fuel to the telecommunications sector in local currency to ensure 24-hour connectivity, particularly in rural areas where boosters are run on generators.
The appeal was made at the weekend by NetOne acting chief executive Raphael Mushanawani during the commissioning of Nachulwe base station in Siansundu village in Binga, Matabeleland North province by Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
Fuel is now readily available at several service stations across the country, but it is mostly sold in foreign currency.
“Fuel is one of our biggest costs in the running of networks and we are, therefore, seeking assistance for more fuel to be available to network operators in local currency,” Mushanawani said.
“Availability of constant supply of electricity to such marginalised areas will greatly enhance our ability to keep our sites running and the community connected at all times. We are kindly requesting your office to help us to access more foreign currency to acquire technologies and services that are not available locally.”
The base station, constructed by NetOne in partnership with Huawei International, is expected to provide 2G and 3G services to the area.
Chiwenga acknowledged the role that telecommunications companies played towards the attainment of a digital economy as enshrined in the government policy document, National Development Strategy One (NDS 1).
“Today is one more base station, but it also means thousands are connected at once and they can be in touch with the world at any time in the comfort of their homes. This will bring inclusivity of previously marginalised communities,” Chiwenga said.
“Our joy comes from the fact that nearby schools, hospitals and communities at large can now benefit from this enhanced connectivity brought about by NetOne Cellular. As government, we urge other players to do the same until we achieve all-round connectivity across the country,” Chiwenga said.
In some parts of the country, villagers said they climbed trees or mountains in order to make a phone call due to poor network coverage. In times of floods, network challenges affected the distribution of aid.
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