Econet Expands Rural Network Coverage, Bridging Zimbabwe’s Digital Divide

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe's Expansion of Rural Network Coverage to Drive Digital Inclusion and Economic Growth

by Ikeoluwa Ogungbangbe

Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, the nation’s leading telecommunications and technology company, has taken a significant step towards bridging the digital divide by extending its rural network coverage. The company has deployed 10 new base stations in previously underserved and unconnected rural areas across Zimbabwe.

These base stations are now operational in various districts, including Karimbika in Uzumba Maramba-Pfungwe, Chitsungo near Mana Pools, Nyamuseve in Guruve, Zvipani in Magunje, Fair Adventure in Wedza, Avila Mission in Kazozo, Nyanga district, Chikwarakwara in Beitbridge, Gezani in Chiredzi, Muchekwawakasungabeta in Chakari, Kadoma, and Nswazi in Plumtree.

The rollout of these rural base stations, completed late last year, was made possible through the Universal Services Fund (USF) under the auspices of the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz).

Honourable Tatenda Mavetera, Zimbabwe’s Minister of Information Communication Technology (ICT), emphasised the significance of this expansion during the commissioning of one of the base stations in Karimbika, Uzumba Maramba Pfungwe District. Minister Mavetera stated that this initiative would contribute to a robust digital economy, leading to various economic benefits, including job creation.

“Increased access to long-term evolution technology can have far-reaching benefits for the masses. It enables seamless connectivity across various sectors, including education, healthcare, agriculture, e-commerce, and finance, among others,” said Minister Mavetera.

Improved connectivity will facilitate access to online educational resources, e-learning platforms, virtual classrooms, and remote learning opportunities. Minister Mavetera highlighted that students would now have access to up-to-date information from around the world, enhancing their learning experiences.

Econet, in alignment with its commitment to providing telecommunication services in remote areas and closing the digital divide, expressed its enthusiasm for the project. A company spokesman noted that they were pleased to contribute to connecting previously marginalised regions.

In a recent report released by Potraz in December 2023, it was revealed that Econet had increased its investment in network infrastructure in the third quarter of the same year, extending its total share of the mobile base stations market to 54%.

Potraz’s 2023 Sector Performance Report disclosed that Econet had successfully rolled out more than 5,700 base stations across the country, accounting for over half of the industry’s total of 10,598 base stations.

Econet’s expansion of rural network coverage is a significant milestone in enhancing connectivity, fostering economic growth, and providing opportunities for previously isolated communities. As Zimbabwe continues on its path towards digital transformation, such initiatives are crucial in ensuring that no one is left behind in the digital age.

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