Zambian operators complete fiber network

Zambian operators have completed the first phase of laying the fiber optic cables that will connect to countries throughout the Southern Africa Development Community region.

The cables have already been connected to several towns in the country, including the Zambia-Namibia border town of Katima Mulilo, in preparation for the launch of the fiber system in Namibia. When complete, the Zambian cables will also connect to networks in Botswana and the Democratic Republic of Congo to ease telecommunication problems in the region.

The Zambian government has ensured that fiber optic connectivity will provide the much-needed infrastructure for the provision of various ICT services across the country, said Minister of Communications and Transport Dora Siliya.

"Our target is to reach about 5,000 kilometers by 2010 to ensure coverage across the country and extend to other countries in the region," Siliya said.

She added that telecommunication infrastructure development in Zambia is in line with the goals of the African Union, which is spearheading a number of fiber cables, including the East Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSY) project, to ensure broadband connectivity across the continent.

Various operators in Zambia - including Zambia Electricity Corporation (ZESCO), Zambia Telecommunication Company and Copperbelt Energy - have laid more than 2, 250 kilometers of fiber cable to complete the first phase of the project, according to Siliya.

Zambia Telecommunication Company spent approximately US$48 million on the first phase, while ZESCO said the project cost them US$13 million.

ZESCO's senior marketing and public relations manager, Monica Chisela, said the construction of the second phase of the project will start in the third quarter of this year, and the company will invest US$43 million into the second phase.

Several companies - including MTN, Zambia Revenue Authority, the Communications Authority of Zambia and mining companies - are already using the fiber network services.

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