[mmegi] The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) this week signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) to connect a fibre optic cable network with that country through Kazungula.
The joint telecommunications project will cost US$258,000.00 and is expected take between three to four months to be built.
Speaking during the signing ceremony of the MoU in Lusaka, the Chief Commercial Officer of Zamtel, Amon Jere, told Zambian media that once effected, the project would make Zambia a telecommunications hub in the southern African region.
Jere said the project would help reduce the cost of international connectivity and improve the quality and speed of Internet services. He disclosed that that the company was considering connecting another fibre optic cable with Namibia through Kazungula.
"We are working on providing high quality but affordable high-speed Internet for all Zambians", Jere said. "Every Zambian must have access to affordable high quality broadband Internet through mobile Internet and fixed Internet through ADSL."
BTC, which provides the country's national and international telecommunications services, early this year signed a similar US$5 million deal with Powertel of Zimbabwe. Under the deal, BTC provides Powertel with international bandwidth capacity for two years after the two organisations completed cross-border fibre optic connections at Ramokgwebana in December 2009.
Fibre optic cables are a special communication module used to carry data and information and is widely used by Internet service providers and in other telecommunication systems. It offers relatively low consumer prices.
BTC has already committed to invest P504 million to secure reliable bandwidth connection from an undersea fibre optic through the West African Cable System (WACS).
BTC and Telcom Namibia will contribute equally as second tiers while regional giants like Vodacom, MTN, Neotel and Zain will contribute US$100 million (approximately P672 million) each for the development of the undersea cable that will link London with Africa.
BTC has also committed US$210 million to the Eastern Africa Submarine Cable System (EASSy) to further increase Botswana's bandwidth capacity. When the sea cable reaches Botswana, Internet speed connectivity will increase while tariffs will drop significantly.
EASSy is one of the projects by which Botswana will acquire high capacity broadband capabilities to position the country as an ICT hub for southern Africa.
Zambia/Botswana fibre optic connection underway