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Zimbabwe's rail fiber optic project kicks off

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Dark Fiber Africa (DFA) and Bandwidth and Cloud Services Group (BCS) have completed the first stage of their long-haul fiber backbone project.

The project is aimed at providing better connectivity between Zimbabwean towns and cities by deploying fiber along the country's national rail tracks.

In the first phase, 1,180km of fiber will stretch from Zimbabwe's border town of Beitbridge in Matabeleland South province to the resort town of Victoria Falls in the north of the country. The network infrastructure cost $18 million with the next phase expected to cost the same amount.

The second phase will extend with an additional 800km from the village of Somabula to the capital city of Harare, via the city of Gweru. The infrastructure will also extend the network from the city of Bulawayo to Plumtree as well as from Harare to Mutare by the middle of 2023.

Eventually, the project will have three additional stages that will see Zimbabwe interconnected with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Mozambique.

Fiber backbone

The BCS Group has also partnered with National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) to use technology to dig and lay cables under the ground on the side of the railway line.

At the project launch in Victoria Falls recently, DFA Zimbabwe chief executive Simon Chimutsotso said the company was excited to be part of the historic project. He said the project will reinforce the Southern African country's position as the telecommunications traffic hub for the Southern African Development Community (SADC), and Africa as a whole.

DFA being part of the project is in line with the company's pledge, from when it was granted a license in 2020, to build a nationwide network for the provision of licensed telecommunications services.

"The project underlines Zimbabwe's commitment to improving people's livelihoods in line with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area concept," added Jenfan Muswere, Zimbabwe's Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services minister.

Yonas Maru, BCS Group managing director, said they were looking forward to the connection of electricity by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) to the 12 repeater sites along the railway where the long-haul transmission equipment will be hosted by February 2023.

Postal and Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) Director General Dr. Gift Machengete added that bandwidth is the bedrock of the fourth industrial revolution and requires improved broadband connectivity for job creation, global competitiveness and betterment of lives.

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*Top image source: Image by wirestock on Freepik

— Matshepo Sehloho, Associate Editor, Connecting Africa

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