The Sunday Mail
Mobile phone operator NetOne has inked a US$485 million deal with Chinese firm Huawei Technologies for the second phase network system upgrade that will see the local firms’ subscriber base increase to 6,5 million. This development is part of the mega deals signed by President Mugabe and his Chinese counterpart President Xi during the former’s historic visit to China in 2014.
President Xi reciprocated the visit last year.
The state owned mobile operator is expected to increase its national coverage throughout the country with its subscriber base reaching 6,5 million in the second phase of the National Mobile Broadband before reaching 10 million by completion of phase three.
The National Mobile Broadband network roll out programme began after the NetOne-Huawei Technologies agreement.
NetOne acting chief executive officer, Mr Brian Mutandiro said the partnership is bearing fruits.
“This is a significant milestone in our history as we continue to provide the best for the country. We are on the right path to reclaim our spot as the largest mobile network operator in Zimbabwe,” he said.
Mr Mutandiro said the agreement was signed in the Chinese capital — Beijing — in partnership with the China Council of the Promotion of International Trade as a follow up to the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC) which was held in Johannesburg last year.
The USD$485 million NetOne facility is part of the USD$60 billion availed by the Chinese for various projects on the continent in concessionary long term loans.
It was unveiled by President Xi at the FOCAC in Johannesburg.
Forty contracts were signed between the Chinese and African countries.
Mr Mutandiro said the deal is one of the success stories of the country’s Look East Policy.
Nearly 1000 base stations have already been set up countrywide under the programme.
“By the time we complete phase two, the company will have 900 base station sites with a total of 2 800 logical base stations.
“More than 50 percent of the 900 base station sites are located in the rural areas where more than 60 percent of the population resides,” he said.
Netone is the second largest mobile operator with the widest network coverage in the country.