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Zimbabwe approves $250 million project to connect rural areas

A $250 million project has been approved by the Zimbabwean government to implement more than 600 towers and base stations across the country to connect rural areas with low mobile connectivity. According to the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) the towers will be shared by the nation's operators.

Supa Mandiwanzira, Minister of Telecommunications, said POTRAZ had received many complaints about the low level of connectivity available to people from across the African country, which influenced the regulator to make the changes.

"We need to move rapidly to deploy base stations and telecoms infrastructure in those areas to allow for mobile communications," said the Minister. "We are going to insist on NetOne, TelOne and Telecel, which are government controlled, to ensure they are not prioritizing investment in urban areas where they believe they can get a return, but in rural areas because that is where the majority of the population is."

The Minister added: "The funding will be supplied by Zimbabwe's Universal Services Fund. The project was first announced in February with build expected to begin by the end of the year. This project, when it takes off, should address the challenge in areas where our people are complaining about the challenge of mobile network."

Last month, Zimbabwean telecom operators agreed to share infrastructure to help cut costs and reduce duplication, according to the government.