NETONE, a mobile telecommunications company owned by the Government has completed installation of network equipment worth over $40 million, as it seeks to strengthen its position against local rivals, its managing director Mr Reward Kangai said yesterday. Helped by a $219 million loan secured from the Exim Bank of China, the company has installed over 100 new base stations countrywide, most of them at different stages of commissioning.
NetOne, with a subscriber base of 3,5 million is seeking to create a network capacity to accommodate eight million subscribers upon completion of the project. “We now have the widest 4G network in the country and this will help us improve quality of the service and to come up with new products to diversify our revenue streams,” said Mr Kangai.
The Government signed a concessional loan agreement with China Exim Bank worth $218,9 million for NetOne’s network expansion under the company’s phase II expansion project. The loan agreement carries an interest rate of 2 percent per annum and is payable over a period of 20 years. NetOne has opened an escrow account where it will deposit repayments.
Mr Kangai said the project was ongoing and will soon start releasing additional equipment worth $24 million. “We are about 30 percent complete,” said Mr Kangai. NetOne contracted Nokia and Huawei to undertake the project. Zimbabwe has been receiving lines of credit from China to fund various projects in the economy.
The expansion of NetOne is among several infrastructure projects being funded by the Chinese. Telecommunications fall under the infrastructure and utilities cluster, one of the four clusters of Zim-Asset, the country’s economic blueprint