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Huawei starts building 169 base stations in Zambia

By , Editor, ITWeb Africa
Zambia , 18 Apr 2014

Huawei starts building 169 base stations in Zambia

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei has officially kicked off a project to build 169 mobile towers in under-serviced rural areas in Zambia.

The first tower was officially launched by Zambia’s Vice President Dr Guy Scott (pictured) and other government and Huawei officials at Matanda in Zambia’s Luapula Province on Thursday.

Huawei is constructing base stations as part of a Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) ‘Universal Access Project’ to build 169 towers in all rural areas of the country’s ten provinces.

Construction of all towers are expected to be completed by October 2014. Also, all three of Zambia’s mobile networks are planned to share the towers more or less equally with 57 to be serviced by Zamtel, 56 by MTN and 56 by Airtel.

Rural areas in Zambia are severely underserved by mobile networks. A 2012 study by Wireless Intelligent said that Zambia has more than 5 million people who are not subscribed to mobile communication services and most of them live in isolated rural areas.

“Through our dedicated effort and commitment to the Zambian market, we endeavor to work with local partners towards improved network quality, affordable rates and more value-added services for the benefit of the people of Zambia,” Huawei Technologies Zambia managing director Spawn Fan Wen told dignitaries at a briefing.

Huawei; though, has been under the spotlight in Africa in recent months for winning controversial mobile network upgrade contracts.

South African-based businessman Tafadzwa Muguti launched a court case in Zimbabwe last year over questions about how Huawei won a $200 million dollar network upgrade deal for state-owned NetOne without going through a public tender process.

Muguti further sought asking about why Zimbabwe’s State Procurement Board (SPB) allowed the deal to go ahead even though documents reveal that the board had concerns over Huawei’s pricing.

And the businessman also posed questions about whether Huawei planned to empower local Zimbabweans.

However, Muguti last month mysteriously withdrew his court case against Huawei.

But Huawei has seemingly sought to address any local empowerment concerns with its Zambian network deal, as per comments by its managing director in that country.

“Job creation is a key part of this strategy, and that employment will come in a number of ways.

Firstly, Huawei will be employing more people to help in construction of the towers. Secondly, the
economic and social benefit generated by the connection of these remote areas will generate business opportunities, stimulate trade and open up whole new markets for labour and produce,” Spawn Fan Wen told dignitaries on Thursday.

According to ZICTA, there are over 10 million active mobile subscribers in Zambia.

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