Government says access to reliable communication services is critical in the fight against Covid-19.
Transport and Communications Minister Mutotwe Kafwaya said access to Information and Communications Technology has become even more important as citizens need reliable information on what is happening in the fight against Covid-19.
Mr Kafwaya said Zambia is facing Covid-19 challenges like many other countries and adapting to the new normal requires that people are given credible information on how to avoid spreading the virus.
He said through the use of ICTs, citizens are encouraged to reach out through the emergency Help Line to get support on Covid-19.
Mr Kafwaya was speaking on Tuesday when he commissioned the Ndoka communications tower at Ndoka Primary School in Kalabo district.
He added that the launch of Ndoka site demonstrates government’s resolve to take communication services to all parts of Zambia.
Mr. Kafwaya said from the 1, 009 towers to be constructed across the country under Phase II of the Communications Tower Project, a total of 717 towers are operational and the remaining ones will be completed by December this year.
“Today we are witnesses to the fulfilment of a promise to connect all parts of Kalabo. GRZ is walking the talk in the development of ICT infrastructure. My Ministry is committed to the provision of affordable and reliable communication services across the country in a manner that leaves no one behind,” Mr Kafwaya said.
He said government is putting in place a regulatory framework that will safeguard the infrastructure being put up adding that government has prioritized the construction of communication towers across the country because of their value to national development.
“My sincere hope that this infrastructure will be safeguarded and that it will contribute to the social and economic development of Kalabo district,” he said.
Speaking earlier, Zamtel Head of Corporate Affairs and Government Relations Reuben Kamanga said Zamtel has been ranked as the best network in terms of quality of Service by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).
Mr. Kamanga said this is contained in the ZICTA’s latest report on Quality of Service (QoS) for Mobile Network Operators.
He said the telecommunication company had worked hard to improve the quality of service to its customers.
Mr. Kamanga said Zamtel was now the network with the largest footprint in the country as it continues to roll out more networks.
“So far 717 new sites have been rolled out in different parts of the country and the remaining sites are planned for completion before end of this year,” he said.
Mr Kamanga said in Kalabo district, Zamtel has added four new sites bringing the total sites in Western Province to 74 while an additional 48 sites will be added across the province before end of the year.
He said Zamtel recognizes that western Province has potential to grow in many sectors of the economy.
He said the construction of towers will help farmers and the business community to expand their portfolios.
“Zamtel has noted massive potential that Western Province has especially in the area of Rice production, tourism and fishing. The coming of infrastructure such as communication towers will help realise this potential,” Mr Kamanga said.
He also said farmers would be able to communicate with buyers of fish in larger markets such as Lusaka.
“Farmers can now receive payments for produce via Zamtel Kwacha which is convenient and secure payment option and helps reduce cash handling risks.
“This infrastructure will help create new business opportunities for the people of Ndoka and surrounding areas,” Mr Kamanga said.
And Kalabo District Commissioner Fridah Luhila said the seven towers installed in Kalabo had revolutionised communication for the people of Kalabo. Mrs. Luhila said government institutions were now able to communicate programmes easily through the use mobile phones.
“The towers have brought businesses to youths in Kalabo and was helping curb crime as the Neighbourhood Watch Groups are able to communicate easily,” she said.
Kalabo district has 83,000 people mostly living in rural parts of the district.