Zimbabwe to deploy fiber-optic cable

The Zimbabwe Investment Agency, the country's development agency, said a project is under way to develop a fiber-optic telecom link

Zimbabwe has started developing a fiber-optic cable aimed at improving the country's telecommunications in a bid to regain its position as having the second-fastest-growing communications sector in Southern Africa.

The Zimbabwe Investment Agency (ZIA), the country's development agency, said a project is under way to develop a fiber-optic telecom link between the country's capital, Harare, and the eastern city of Mutare, which borders Mozambique.

This means that Zimbabwe joins other Southern and East African countries including Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda in developing fiber-optic cable networks.

ZIA chief executive officer Richard Mbaiwa said the special purpose vehicle that was formed to spearhead the development of the cable has made significant progress with the project although it was behind schedule.

"Africom Continental, the special purpose vehicle company that was formed to spearhead the development of the cable, is hoping to complete the project as soon as possible," Mbaiwa said.

Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, is trying to move from unreliable and expensive satellite communication to cheaper fiber-optic communication.

Like Zambia and other African countries, Zimbabwe is hoping that the completion of the project will give more capacity to Internet and mobile service providers in order to improve Internet connectivity and telecom.

The Zimbabwean government has over the past 10 years been criticized for neglecting the ICT sector, decreasing funding to the ministry of ICT.

According to the Global Information Technology report 2008-2009, Zimbabwe was ranked 132 out of 134 countries on the network readiness index. This means that Zimbabwe ranks below all the 13 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries.

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