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DFA Zimbabwe Partners International Firm on Long-haul Fibre-optic project

Launch of the BCS fiber optic network in Victoria Falls

Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services Minister, Dr. Jenfan Muswere recently commissioned, in the resort town of Victoria Falls, the first multi-million dollar rail fiber optic project invested by international group Bandwidth and Cloud Services (BCS) in partnership with DFA Zimbabwe.

This is not only aimed at addressing the much-needed network diversity and redundancy in Zimbabwe but also provides connectivity solutions between South Africa, Zambia, and SADC at large. DFA Zimbabwe owns a 38% share in the 1,180km fibre network stretching from Beitbridge to Victoria Falls.

Speaking at the launch of the BCS fiber optic network in Victoria Falls on 21 December 2022, Minister Jenfan Muswere said, “Today we are here to underline Government’s commitment to improving people’s livelihoods in line with the Africa Continental Free Trade Area concept.” The project is in harmony with the country’s goal of the realisation of an upper-middle-income society by 2030 and the Minister commended this game-changing initiative. “This project demonstrates the desire by the Government to empower people through technology and the digital economy,” he added.

The launch was attended by among other key dignitaries, Dr. Gift Machengete, the Director General of POTRAZ, the General Manager of NRZ, the BCS Managing Director and management, DFA Zimbabwe executives, other telecoms executives, Government officials, and various business persons.

1,180 kilometres of fibre was laid along the national rail tracks using locomotive power pulling a 100-tonne ploughing machine burying the fiber cable 1.2 metres underground. In every 4km, a manhole was installed to pull and connect fiber cables using modern technology.

The fiber optic project is split into phases with the first phase connecting from Beitbridge along the railway line passing through the major cities such as Bulawayo, Hwange, and through to Victoria Falls. The second phase of the project which will commence in early 2023 will extend the network from Somabula to Harare via Gweru and from Bulawayo to Plumtree as well as from Harare to Mutare. This fiber optic network is set to make Zimbabwe the focal point of the internet on the African continent.

An engineering and technical workforce from the Mauritius-headquartered BCS has been deployed to work on the project which started during the heat of the Covid19 pandemic. The build cost of the Beitbridge to Victoria Falls long-haul network infrastructure was over USD18 million and the next phase is expected to cost the same. DFA Zimbabwe holds a 38% stake in the partnership making it a key player in the fruition of this project.

DFA Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer, Mr. Simon Chimutsotso at the launch of the BCS fiber optic network said, “As DFA Zimbabwe we are excited to be part of this historic project that will reinforce Zimbabwe’s position as the telecommunications traffic hub for the region and Africa”.

DFA Zimbabwe is proud of its involvement in bringing this project to Zimbabwe as it will create a more vibrant ICT Ecosystem in Zimbabwe with many downstream benefits for the communities.”

The Group Managing Director of BCS, Mr. Yonas Maru, said that they anticipated that the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) will be connecting power at the 12 repeater sites along the railway where the long-haul transmission equipment will be hosted by February 2023.

About DFA Zimbabwe

DFA Zimbabwe is a cost-effective open-access fibre infrastructure and connectivity provider that builds, installs, manages and maintains a fibre network to transmit metro and long-haul telecommunications traffic. The traffic is leased to its customers (telecommunication companies and internet service providers (ISPs) using an open access wholesale commercial model.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende