ZESCO Limited will spend US$93.2 million to complete the installation of the optic fibre network that will cover about 6,500 kilometres by the end of the year.
The power utility company that has already installed 5,300km of optic fibre network, has so far spent about US$80 million to complete phases I and II, while the phase II extension project is expected to gobble US$13 million by December.
Zesco director of transmission Christopher Mubemba said phases I and II of the projects have so far covered 46 districts, including rural districts and two international connections to Namibia and Tanzania.
Mr Mubemba said this in Lusaka on Wednesday evening during the launch of the phase II Fibrecom project, which is a loan from the Bank of China.
“The phase II extension is expected to cover more rural districts namely Kaoma, Kalabo, Mfuwe and others.
In addition to the two international links through Namibia and Tanzania, the Fibrecom network will soon be connected to five neighbouring countries that include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, thus creating a telecommunications hub in the region,” he said.
Mr Mubemba said the fibre network will enhance efficiency and reliability in the control and management of the countrywide electricity network through high voltage line protection, inter-country operations and national call centre operations.
He said the development will also enable the country to have a fast and extensive telecommunications back-bone.
Mr Mubemba said the optic fibre network has enabled the power utility to generate revenue that has helped Zesco pay back loans for investments and rolled up the network further.
Zesco generated about US$6.7 million from US$6.1 million generated the previous year. The company’s optic fibre network dubbed Fibrecom network carries 60 percent of the country’s internet traffic.
Officiating at the same occasion Minister of Transport and Communications Christopher Yaluma said the investment by Zesco will improve people’s livelihoods as reliable information communication technology (ICT) will create investment opportunities in rural areas and enhance the implementation of e-learning, e-health and e-commerce.
“We believe that through investment in new technology in rural areas, we will be able to attract development by retaining expertise in various professions such as medical practitioners and many others,” he said.
Mr Yaluma also said the country is now set for a digital broadband revolution.
And Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Yamfwa Mukanga emphasised the need for reliable and affordable ICT, electricity and water as these are important factors in socio-economy development.
Mr Mukanga said the optic fibre network will ensure improved safety and efficiency in the supply of electricity from generation to supply point.