Tawanda Musarurwa Business Reporter
Huawei Technologies Africa says it has completed the first phase of the $200 million NetOne LTE broadband expansion project. The three-year project, which is expected to be completed in 2016, will see NetOne providing LTE services to its customers across Zimbabwe, resulting in wider broadband use in the country.
Statistics from the International Telecommunications Union show that in 2013, Zimbabwe’s fixed broadband penetration stood at 0,7 percent, while the mobile broadband penetration rate was at 38 percent.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Innovation Africa Digital Summit in Victoria Falls last week, Huawei Technologies vice president Southern and Eastern African region Mr David Wang said: “Huawei is helping NetOne build its nationwide wireless network, the total amount is around $200 million. The project time is three years. We kicked off the project last year, and we have so far managed to complete the first phase of the project. Now we are on the second phase,” he said.
Huawei, which entered the Zimbabwean market in 1999, currently provides a range of services in the country including provision of traditional telecommunications products, wireless network and software; provision of enterprise solutions for the public sector, and selling of devices.
Mr Wang said although there was notable growth in broadband connectivity within countries across the African continent, there was need for broadband interconnectivity between countries. To this extent, he said, Huawei was engaging the African Union (AU) and “other key stakeholders” for inter-country connectivity.”
In each country they have their own ICT infrastructure backbone, but across the continent, for instance in Zimbabwe and Zambia between borders, there is no connection.
Huawei is working on it, not only to persuade the government of each country, but also the African Union and other stakeholders to better connect Africa. And once the connectivity is there, then we can say broadband can benefit everybody,” said Mr Wang.
Earlier in February, the AU signed a memorandum of understanding with Huawei Technologies on ICT partnership.
Currently, over half of Africa’s wireless network base stations have been constructed by Huawei, covering more than 50 percent of the continent’s population.
Addressing the IAD Summit delegates earlier Mr Wang outlined the benefits of extensive broadband usage to economic performance.
“The innovation efficiency of countries with higher broadband penetration is 15 times that of countries with lower broadband penetration. Broadband development also influences productivity; specifically it can lead to an increase of 5 percent in manufacturing, 20 percent in information services, and 10 percent in services.”