Zimbabwe has started developing an undersea fiber-optic cable aimed at improving the country’s telecommunications services.
Fiber optics connections offer a higher carrying capacity. These cables connect to the rest of the world at lightning speed.
Zimbabwe, like many other African countries, is trying to move from satellite communication to the fiber-optic alternative, which is cheaper and more efficient.
Hopes are that the project would increase the capacity of Internet and mobile service providers.
The project is at an advanced stage, with trenching, which has already reached Marondera, 72 kilometers east of Harare, while the laying of fiber optic cables has reached Ruwa, just a few kilometers outside the capital.
The broadband link will operate through a series of underground cables that will run from Harare to the port of Beira in Mozambique where the cable will link with international undersea cables that will relay data to destinations within and outside the country.
Nhena Nyagura, Chief Operations Officer of Africom Continental, the company leading in the implementation of the project, said: “Upon completion of the project, telecoms users will be able to transfer data at an increased bandwidth and at lower costs.”
”We hope that the project will be completed by the end of the year as some investors have expressed interest in partnering the companies involved in the infrastructural development of the project.”
Other Southern and East African countries, which are also developing fiber-optics, are Zambia, Malawi, Rwanda and Uganda.
Richard Mbaiwa, Chief Executive Officer of the Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA), the country’s development agency, said that Africom Continental had made significant progress.
“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,” said Mbaiwa.
There are over 800 000 Internet users in the country of 13 million people.
Early this year, Zimbabwe was once disconnected from the global links after an international satellite firm, Intelsat, cut its international bandwidth because Zimbabwe had failed to pay the US $700,000 fee.
Information and Technology Minister, Nelson Chamisa, who is also Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC spokesperson, said the installing of the undersea cables will improve data transmission, adding that, at the moment, the country does not have enough capacity to transmit data through the internet.
“We are relying on satellite transmissions which are expensive and slow,” said Chamisa.
He said developing submarine infrastructure was important because transmission of data through these cables was cheaper and faster.