Econet to upgrade rural base stations 

Source: Econet to upgrade rural base stations -Newsday Zimbabwe

ECONET Wireless is targeting to complete upgrading its network in rural areas to 4G by 2025 as it moves to support the country’s smart cities vision, NewsDay Business can report.

Most of Econet’s base stations located in rural areas are operating on the 2G network. According to delegates at Global Renaissance Investments’ Smart Cities and Devolution Masterclass last week in Nyanga, the 2G scenario does not support Zimbabwe’s ambition for smart cities.

However, Econet Wireless segment business manager for public enterprises Chad Nyakonda said the company seeks to have renovated every base station in rural areas by 2025.

“According to our plan, we should be done by 2025. But as a country, it is subject to the resources that we all know about. So, we will have a challenge like everyone else in the country,” Nyakonda said.

“But we are also doing certain antics so that we will be able to do that. If you look at other countries right now, I remember there were some people who went to Australia on roaming and there was no 3G or 2G.

“So, that is where the world is going. But obviously, in Africa, it will take a long time for us to phase out 2G and 3G because we still have quite a lot of computing assets.  But if everything is equal, we will be done by 2025. But [this is] subject to the obvious issue that is affecting everyone in the country, (foreign currency),” he said.

The smart cities concept is expected to generate the much-needed investments expected to boost economic growth towards the targeted upper middle-income status by 2030.

Econet has started working on base stations in rural areas, including in Luangwe, according to Nyakonda. The company also has several initiatives in the works that are related to the role that technology plays in enabling smart cities.

In 2022, Econet invested more than US$66 million in network modernisation.

“We have data centres and right now we have got three of them, two in Harare, one in Mutare and we are also building some in Gweru and Bulawayo. So, for those who want to do hosting, you do not have to build new infrastructure. We can actually host you there, whether it is for the kids to come, or for your software and so forth, we will be able to do that,” he said.

He indicated that some of the initiatives included know-your-customer systems for banks, synergies and public private partnerships.

“We have two synergies. We don’t have to do a turnkey solution, but we have two synergies, which is something that is of interest to everybody. Even with the financing, we can largely do it,” he said.