Tinashe Makichi and Nelson Gahadza
Econet Wireless Global’s subsidiary, Liquid Telecoms, says it has raised $150 million to fund the further expansion of its fibre network in Africa. The network currently spans over 18 000km and includes fibre rings around a multitude of towns and cities. Liquid Telecom Zimbabwe managing director Mr Wellington Makamure said such infrastructure development will continue with a pan-African focus.

“The new investment will be used to extend Liquid Telecoms fibre network into additional countries as part of the company’s continuous expansion strategy. In Zimbabwe, it will also finance ongoing Fibre-to -the-Home builds in Harare, Bulawayo, Gweru, Mutare and recently Victoria Falls, which will provide homes and businesses with unlimited data packages and 100Mbps, the fastest broadband ever available in Africa,” he said.

Mr Makamure said Liquid Telecoms has an open access network policy where it works with other independent IAPs, ISPs and telcos in the country.

“Our customers include other wholesale carriers, mobile network operators, ISPs, financial institutions and businesses of all sizes and homes. Apart from our retail arm ZOL Zimbabwe, we also operate retail businesses in Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda,” he said.

The group said it has spent more than five years building what is now Africa’s largest independent cross-border fibre network which runs across 15 nations from Southern Africa to East and Central Africa covering Africa’s fast-growing economies where no fixed network has existed before and connecting to all the undersea cables.

Telecommunications and internet data services represent one of the fastest growth sectors in African economics largely as a result of a technology revolution that only became pronounced in the 1990s.

ZOL Zimbabwe expects to have a presence in more than 100 000 homes through the Fibre-to-the Home programme by the end of this year. ZOL has so far covered more than 30 000 homes in Harare and is in line to connect about 30 000 more in the next few months. By the end of the year, the company targets more households to be on its fibre optic internet.

ZESA Holdings’ subsidiary Powertel has also registered its presence in the region by becoming the first company to have fibre connectivity via Botswana. The power utility plans to roll out a $32 million fibre optic backbone network project set to improve the country’s connectivity. The project is expected to start this year and requires the installation of around 1 850km of cable with surveys already been completed.

Powertel has upgraded its network capacity from STM16 to STM 64 and also increased distribution through ZETDC and third party channels. Powertel has optimised base stations delivering high-speed broadband and has also added more back-up access to ensure reliable internet connectivity to customers.