Martin Kadzere Senior Business Reporter
LIQUID Telecom has started rolling out its fibre optic network in the southern and eastern parts of Zimbabwe to meet the growing demand for internet services, an official said.
The project, which will cost about $14 million and covering 1 600 kilometres, will extend main trunk backbone network to connect Gweru, Shurugwi, Zvishavane, Mashava, Masvingo, Tokwe, Chiredzi, Triangle, Mkwasine, Middle Sabi, Chipinge, Chimanimani, Mutare, Nyanga, Harare and Nyamapanda, MD Mr Wellington Makamure said.
“This main trunk backbone will facilitate back-hauling of all telecommunication services from these areas to the rest of the world,” said Mr Makamure.
The Gweru to Mutare leg is expected to be commissioned by end of this month while the rest will depend on weather conditions in the eastern highlands as progress would be slow due to incessant rains.
Liquid Telecom has built Africa’s largest independent fibre network, which runs from the north of Uganda to Cape Town, covering Africa’s fastest-growing economies, where no fixed network has ever existed before. The network currently spans over 40 000 km across borders and includes The East Africa Fibre Ring and the first regional fibre ring on the continent. Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe has built 13 700 of this network.
In 2015, Econet Wireless Global, the holding company of Liquid Telecom raised about $150 million to fund expansion of its fibre network across the continent. Mr Makamure said the project would complete the national backbone rings for Liquid thereby enabling backup of all major links around the country and international links.
Last mile connections will be needed to connect services to the aggregation points covered by the backbone.
Over the past few years, Liquid Telecom has been leading in terms of investing in telecommunications infrastructure. According to Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority fourth quarter report, the company’s Wi-Fi G Hotspots increased by 8,1 percent to 362 in the fourth quarter ended December 31, 2016 from 335 in the previous quarter. Its market share of equipped bandwidth capacity is 79 percent, way ahead of competitors TelOne, Powertel, Dandemutande and Africom.
Liquid Telecom is the leading independent data, voice and IP provider in eastern, central and southern Africa. It supplies fibre optic, satellite and international carrier services to Africa’s largest mobile network operators, ISPs and businesses of all sizes.
It also provides payment solutions to financial institutions and retailers, as well as award winning data storage and communication solutions to businesses across Africa and beyond.
The company operates throughout Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Mauritius, Rwanda, South Africa, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom under a number of different wholesale, enterprise and retail brands.