STATE-owned fixed phone operator, TelOne will start accessing the $98 million loan facility from China Exim Bank to finance its network modernisation programme by the end of March.
Zimbabwe and China signed an agreement for the loan in December last year during a visit to the country by the Chinese President Xi Jinping.
TelOne spokesperson Melody Harry told The Source this week that her company was finalising arrangements to access the loan, which was key to its network modernisation plans.
“We’re looking forward to the modernisation of our network including the continuation of the exchange digitisation programme, expansion of the backbone fibre network and introduction of a number of value added services, which will be unveiled in due course,” she said.
Part of the modernisation plan entails replacing the company’s entire network and embarking on a backbone fibre optic transmission.
The modernisation plan also entails broadband access project which is integral to Telco’s bid to become a fully-fledged technological company, offering enhanced data services above its traditional voice service.
Harry said the revamped network would help TelOne consolidate its market share after it launched new products last year.
“A number of new products, which include public wifi and fibre to the home, were some of the major highlights during the year, which we’re looking forward to consolidate and strengthen on monetisation (of those products) this year,” she said.
The $98 million China Exim Bank loan facility was also part of the landmark $4 billion deals signed between Zimbabwe and China during president Jinping visit.
During the visit, the two countries signed 12 investment agreements covering different sectors of the economy such as energy and power development, pharmaceutical warehousing and expansion of a national fibre optic broadband project.
For over 15 years, Zimbabwe has been unable to access long-term loans to fund infrastructure because it is in arrears with global funders- International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
However, it is hoped that the multilateral institutions might resume financial support to Zimbabwe after a deal was in October last year struck with international creditors on how the country intends to pay its arrears.
Zimbabwe intends to clear its arrears to the three institutions, IMF ($110 million), the World Bank ($1,15 billion) and the African Development Bank ($601 million) by end of April 2016. — The Source/Business Reporter.