The Ministry of Transport and Communication has reiterated its commitment to government’s developmental agenda of improving access to quality communication through the ongoing 24 tower project under the universal access fund.
Government had in 2020-2021, under the universal access fund, embarked on a 24 tower project to add to the already existing set of towers aimed at addressing network challenges in some parts of the country which already had installed towers.
Speaking in Lusaka when he inspected ongoing works at Njolwe site for a tower installation, Ministry of Transport and Communications Permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu said government is determined to meeting the needs of the Zambian people and committed to not leaving anyone behind in terms of access to communication.
Mr. Lungu said the erection of the tower at Njolwe will cost US$3.9 million.
He said the installation of the tower in Njolwe is part of the current ongoing 24 tower project in various sites around the country that were identified to have network challenges.
“We are determined to add more towers, for example we have received reports that in Kasoma Lunga, there are a lot of people but there is no network, so we have committed ourselves as Ministry of Transport and Communication to ensure that we fulfil the commitment of President Lungu by providing a tower at Kasoma Lunga,” he said.
Mr. Lungu said he is happy with the progress of works so far as most of the sub-structure works had been completed in almost all the 24 sites around the country and hence the physical towers would soon be erected.
He further disclosed that all the necessary materials had been received from China, which he said would ease the works.
The Permanent Secretary said he is confident that the project would be completed by the projected month end of September 2021 timeframe.
He added that the 24 towers were an addition to the 1009 which were already being done intended to fill in the gaps to address communication coverage.
Mr. Lungu said his ministry will work with ZICTA to ensure that all Zambians are brought on board and connected to quality communication.
He further disclosed that works on the ongoing 1009 towers project under the communication towers phase two, which are at a cost of US$280 million, were nearing completion with 96 percent achieved.
He said only a few towers are yet to be completed before the project is delivered to the Zambian people.
Mr. Lungu emphasized that the communication sector has delivered good results meant to benefit everyone owing to the huge number of people currently on communication networks around the country.
He added that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, youths are able to do business and venture into other money making ventures through online platforms as a result of good network coverage from the comfort of their homes.
“For us we are saying financial inclusion has been achieved through connectivity which we have done as a ministry. If we did not have this investment today which was done way before the Covid-19, we were going to have a total lockdown but today we have a partial lockdown because people are able to work at home,” he said.
Mr. Lungu further disclosed that government has allocated about US$10 million towards the improvement of quality monitoring of players on the market to address poor service provision by network providers.
He said a technical team under ZICTA is working to ensure procurement of state of the art equipment that will help in monitoring the quality of the network.
He warned that operators found wanting would be penalized.
Mr. Lungu has meanwhile advised users to take advantage of the ICT sector to make value of the opportunity and engage into income generating activities through mobile platforms.