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NetOne commended for setting up base station in Cyclone Idai-hit Chimanimani

Delegates at the Machongwe Base Station in Chimanimani

Minister of Information Communication Technology (ICT), Postal and Courier Services, Hon. Dr. Jenfan Muswere commended NetOne for setting up a base station at Machongwe in Cyclone Idai hit Chimanimani while commissioning the facility on 30th October 2020.

The Machongwe Base Station is set to revolutionize business, agriculture and enhance communication within the Manicaland Province and beyond.

“I must commend NetOne’s thrust to fulfill the government’s initiative to provide coverage and digital exposure to originally marginalized rural populations, especially in light of the fact that Machongwe’s commercial centre was wiped out by Cyclone Idai. Furthermore, a lot of critical infrastructure in the area was either cut off or swept away by flash floods and mudflows induced by the Cyclone. Machongwe bore the full wrath of the cyclone, which makes today’s Base Station commissioning such a special event and story of the restoration of communication solutions in the area.

“This will no doubt promote employment creation, by enhancing distribution and access channels.  I have also been advised that this Machongwe Tower has already been provisioned for infrastructure sharing, meaning that the other operators Econet and Telecel are free to utilize this same infrastructure and install their equipment on this base station cost-effectively,” Minister Muswere said.

The ICT Ministry has a resolve to improve mobile accessibility countrywide The world is being driven by innovation, information, and communication technologies; as such ICTs have become key fundamentals in the attainment of Zimbabwe’s Vision 2030, and becoming an upper-middle-income economy.

“As the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services, our mandate is to use information technologies and communication solutions, to improve the livelihoods of all Zimbabweans, irrespective of location, throughout our great nation.  This enhanced access to connectivity plays a pivotal role in ensuring that we achieve connected communities, thus the investment in the necessary infrastructure in both rural and urban centres, one of which we are witnessing today,” Minister Muswere added.

Dr. Gift Machengete, the Director-General of the Postal and Communication Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ), speaking on the same occassion weighed in and extended gratitude to the mobile telephony company since only two weeks ago, in the Matobo District of Matabeleland South Province ICT stakeholders witnessed the commissioning of the Silonkwe base station, which was erected by NetOne.

“I would like to congratulate and welcome the Machongwe Community to the digital world. Welcome to the world of ease of communication, ease of transaction, and ease of doing business, which is all enabled by ICT access and use, which, hitherto the erection of this base station, you did not have.

“Ladies and gentlemen, the Commissioning of the Machongwe base station is extra special. As you all know, parts of Chimanimani were ravaged by Cyclone Idai, which left the affected communities without essential communication and road network infrastructure among other amenities. Since then, Government has been on a rebuilding mission, rebuilding people’s lives and livelihoods, rebuilding people’s confidence, rebuilding people’s dreams. The Machongwe base station is thus extra special in that it is part of and contributes to this rebuilding exercise by Government,” Dr. Machengete said.

ICTs are integral for Disaster Management in terms of both preparedness and mitigation. While natural disasters may be difficult to prevent, their effects may be lessened through ICT enabled Early Warning Systems that predict the occurrence of a disaster and warn relevant authorities. This enables people to be evacuated, thus limiting the number of casualties or avoiding any altogether.

“Additionally, before disaster strikes, communities in disaster prone areas may be made aware of what to do in the event of a disaster via SMS and Whatsapp messages. This certainly lessens the impact of the disaster. Furthermore, when disasters strike, ICTs are essential in enabling civilians to send distress calls and give rescue workers their accurate locations through GPS systems on mobile phones,” Dr. Machengete added. 

The Acting Chief Executive Officer of NetOne Ms. Chipo Jaisson said the Machongwe base station will empower the community through access to communication solutions, as well as products and services offered by NetOne. She said the base station is not only a source of communication but an additional source of employment creation and income for everyone throughout the district.

“As NetOne, we have many opportunities in the form of franchise shops for local entrepreneurs. This base station is provisioned to provide 2G & 3G services, hence providing data access through a re-farmed 900MHz spectrum, thereby availing cutting edge services to the once marginalized communities in this part of Manicaland.

“The community now has access to voice and data services enabling them to utilize electronic services such as our mobile money service One Money. This will allow you to receive and make payments with ease as One Money, is integrated into the Zimswitch platform and over 16 banks via ZIPIT. In addition, the One Money debit card allows you to swipe at any point-of-sale machine throughout the country, as well as buy and sell airtime at a discount. We also have very exciting voice bundles like Khuluma 24/7 and Dollar a Day that gives you real value for money. Our WhatsApp bundle is the only one that offers both voice and video calls,” Ms. Jaisson said.

The Machongwe Base Station is located about 14km  South of Chimanimani Town, in Manicaland Province. This site is mounted on a 60m long lattice-type mast, giving it an optimum coverage area of a radius of about 35- 40 km. The site is providing coverage to at least 6 Wards namely 12, 13, 15, 21, 22, and 23 of Chimanimani District.

Furthermore, some of the critical community amenities are also receiving coverage and internet access from Machongwe Site such as Ndima Primary, Ndieme Primary, Mutsvangwa Clinic, Muchadziya Clinic,Tilbury Clinic, Tarka Primary School, Hlabiso Primary ,Muchadziya Clinic  ,Chisengu Clinic, Ngorima, Nyahode Secondary, Machongwe Growth Point, Kwirire Primary school, Kushinga Primary school, Kushinga Secondary School, Derera , Kurwaisimba, Runohwani, Mutsvangwa Primary and Mutsvangwa Secondary school.

A population of about +- 40 000 people is benefiting from the infrastructure developed at Machongwe. This site shares traffic with Nyahode on the western side and Ngangu Shops in the Northern region. Currently, NetOne is the only one providing a network to this area, although this tower is already provisioned for Infrastructure sharing to allow other telcos to follow suit.

The Minister of State for Manicaland Provincial Affairs and Devolution, Hon. Ellen Gwaradzimba said such infrastructure will facilitate the growth of the provincial economy and allow the local community to benefit from the numerous benefits that come with network connectivity.

“This community is now connected to the global village, hence allowing them to actively participate in the digital economy as well as expand their market reach for the various produce grown within this area. I would like to extend my sincere gratitude to NetOne Cellular, for its continued investment in mobile network and the on-going roll-out of new and improved coverage for communities, we are stronger together when we work collectively as government, civil society, and business,” Hon Gwaradzimba said.

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Byron Adonis Mutingwende