Full text of President Mnangagwa’s address at the commissioning of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare and Beitbridge-Bulawayo National Backbone Fibre Optic Link
It is my singular honour to address you at this momentous event, which marks the commissioning of the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare and Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Harare Backbone Fibre Optic Links.
Allow me to commend the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services through the TelOne board, management and other stakeholders for making this event a success.
This project is undoubtedly set to have a far-reaching impact towards the attainment of our national vision as it relates to ICT, where we envisage having Internet access at village level by 2030.
Special appreciation goes to the Government of the People’s Republic of China, represented here by the Acting Ambassador Mr Zhao Baogang, for the loan facilities which they continue to avail in support of infrastructure development in our country.
The US$98 million loan facility through China Exim Bank enabled the timely completion of this project .
It gives us comfort to know that we have strategic, comprehensive partners and friends who continue to stand by us in our quest for development, progress and prosperity.
Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Guests;
Our infrastructure has for too long lagged behind, but we are determined to catch up with those that have progressed ahead of us.
My Government, under the Second Republic, is determined to connect our nation speedily and equitably.
We have presently prioritised the building and rehabilitation of roads throughout the country.
However, we are equally cognisant of the need to build the infrastructure of tomorrow, hence the completion of this project is timely and is a significant step for the new Zimbabwe.
Such investment has a transformative impact in our quest for economic growth, modernisation and industrialisation of the economy. It will further improve economic efficiency and productivity.
This initiative is a testimony of my Government’s commitment to building modern infrastructure that will give our people the best opportunities to succeed, develop and thrive in the modern world, without any impediments. In this regard, today’s commissioning goes much deeper than merely fibre optic connectivity.
Implemented by Chinese technology company Huawei, together with a local team of TelOne engineers; this milestone accomplishment will enhance our country’s land linked status as it will efficiently connect us to the rest of the world. It will further ensure a more inclusive society, where all our people can benefit from the immense growth opportunities that are abound across all sectors. In the Second Republic, proximity to the major cities need not be a prerequisite for economic success.
All Zimbabweans should have access to the vital tools of development, which Internet capability facilitates.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
In the modern economy, opportunity is technology and the role of Government is to ensure all its citizens have access to this technology.
In addition, the middle-income economy status we envision, will be accelerated as a result of the digital socio-economic impact that cuts across financial services, health, retail, agriculture, mining, tourism and Government.
This undertaking should, therefore, be understood in this context. That is, as an economic enabler that will transform us into an e-society through the promotion of e-commerce, e-government, online trade, investment education and services.
I challenge the Ministry of ICT, Postal and Courier Services to continue to take a central role in coordinating, harnessing and integrating the various efficiencies of ICT for the benefit of our public sector.
I also direct all ministries and departments to move with speed to improve the efficiency of public services through the use of ICT solutions for the convenience of our people. Let us embrace the future. Let us look forward and not backwards.
We must move out of our comfort zones and put aside archaic methods of how we have always done things, and instead ask how we can do things better.
By embracing technology and connectivity, we are embracing the future, and giving our people the best opportunities to thrive in the modern economy.
We note with pride that the establishment of these fibre links has completed the connectivity of Zimbabwe with our neighbouring countries, specifically South Africa, Mozambique, Botswana and Zambia. The link will also provide transit services that enable SADC members to be connecting to the whole world through a robust fibre network.
I am particularly impressed that this infrastructure is one of the most reliable routes in the Southern Africa Region.
I commend TelOne for the prudent manner they utilised the financial resources of this Government-initiated and guaranteed project.
I urge all public entities to take a leaf from this good example and instil a culture of good stewardship, hard honest work, accountability and transparency in the implementation of national projects. The days of incomplete projects and non-payment of loans are over.
TelOne (Pvt) Limited is one of the companies that my Government has put forward for partial privatisation.
I am confident that this robust infrastructure we are commissioning today will help the company to attract the most suitable strategic partners.
Meanwhile, I call upon players in the ICT sector, researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs alike, to research and innovate so that we have services that ride on this huge Internet capability.
This infrastructure should, therefore, be a catalyst in our quest to modernise and industrialise our economy, both in rural and urban areas.
To the traditional leadership, communities and local Government structures, I thank you for your support.
Government programmes will only succeed with such positive collaboration and collective visioning.
In this spirit, I exhort you all to harness the opportunities arising out of this infrastructure to advance the growth of provincial economies and rural industry systems.
In conclusion, allow me to once again commend all stakeholders, whose hard work made today possible. Well done to you all.
We look forward to seeing this investment not only contributing to employment creation, but also generating the much needed foreign currency and wholesale improvement of Zimbabwe’s outlook as an investment destination.
With these remarks, I now declare the Beitbridge-Masvingo-Harare and Beitbridge-Bulawayo-Harare Backbone Fibre Link officially launched.
God bless you!
God bless Zimbabwe!
I thank you.