Zimbabwe-China mega deal creates 1500 jobs in Mat’land South
Nqobile Tshili, Chronicle Correspondent
TELONE has employed about 1 500 people from Matabeleland South to lay optic fibre cables in the 330KM Bulawayo-Beitbridge Backbone Fibre project.
The project is a fruit of the mega deals signed by Zimbabwe and China in December 2015 in Harare. The parastatal has received $33 million out of a $98 million loan from the Asian economic giant.
TelOne will offer the fastest internet service connections at lowest rates in the country, once the project is completed.
Launching the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Backbone Fibre project which is part of NBP in Matabeleland South’s Umzingwane District, the Minister of Information, Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Cde Supa Mandiwanzira who was represented by his deputy Dr Win Mlambo, yesterday said the NBP should be completed for the transformation of the country’s economy.
He said from the $98 million which was unveiled $33 million has already been put to use.
Minister Mandiwanzira said the project would not have started without the mega deals.
“Such significance of the NBP has seen it being granted the national project status which assures you of the Government’s seriousness in connecting everyone everywhere through players like TelOne. As most of you here may already know, this project is a product of the Chinese mega deals signed in December 2015 by His Excellency President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart President Xi Jinping after a long process of negotiations. This culminated in TelOne benefiting from the China Exim Bank $98 million facility for the project being implemented by Huawei that is why they are here with us,” said Cde Mandiwanzira.
He said the Bulawayo-Beitbridge project utilised $7.7 million, creating jobs for local people who were contracted to provide menial labour.
Cde Mandiwanzira said other local people benefited through being sub-contracted to do other jobs.
“In the process of the rollout, at least 1 500 casual jobs for the local communities have been created. This is direct empowerment that we require and encourage all our contractors each time we have projects of this nature being implemented. We are keen on these projects as we are on the drive to ensure that Zimbabweans are empowered through employment creation and also virtual connections through the best internet at the lowest possible cost.”
He said the NBP is being implemented in accordance with Government’s E-governance drive.
“Furthermore, the fibre backbone supports communications initiatives by providing a solid base for launching e-services in health, education, justice, immigration, parliament, home affairs and other sectors. This means we will soon be able to enjoy all these benefits because we will be having reliable internet services right in our backyard,” he said.
Cde Mandiwanzira said the project will see internet services becoming cheaper and more accessible.
NetOne’s board chairman Engineer Charles Shamu said the Bulawayo-Beitbridge Backbone project started in October last year and is expected to be completed in June.
He said TelOne has also completed the upgrading of Bulawayo-Victoria Falls microwave radio link and Mutare-Harare-Bulawayo-Plumtree optic fibre backbone link.