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Telecoms giant NetOne has started reconnecting to its mobile telephone network, communities in some parts of Manicaland province, whose lives were ravaged by tropical storm, Cyclone Idai last year in March.
Cyclone Idai was described by United Nations as one of the deadliest storms in the southern hemisphere and it left a trail of destruction across three southern African countries Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe.
More than 1 000 people killed while the tropical storm caused extensive damage to vital infrastructure such as telecommunication, schools, hospitals, roads and bridges.
Local communities were left isolated from the rest of the world in terms of communication as infrastructure was extensively damaged.
Commissioning the Machongwe base station in Chimanimani, information communication technology minister, Jenfan Muswere said the new infrastructure was set to improve business, agriculture, and communication in the province, and beyond after the tropical cyclone.
“I must commend NetOne thrust to fulfill the government’s initiative to provide coverage and digital exposure to originally marginalised rural populations, especially in light of the fact that Machongwe commercial centre was wiped out by Cyclone Idai,” said Muswere.
“Furthermore, a lot of critical infrastructure in the area was either cut off or swept away by flash floods and mudflows induced by Cyclone Idai. Machongwe bore the full wrath of the cyclone, which makes the commissioning a special event.
“As a ministry, our mandate is to use information technologies and communication solution, to improve the livelihoods of all Zimbabweans, irrespective of location throughout the country. This enhanced access to connectivity plays a role in ensuring that we achieve connected communities, thus the investment in the necessary infrastructure in both rural and urban centres,” he said.
The Machongwe base station will improve access to ICTs for 10 rural schools and five clinics in the area.
“I have been advised that Machongwe Tower has already been provisioned for infrastructure sharing meaning that other operators Econet and Telecel are free to utilize the same infrastructure and install their equipment on this base station and this is cost effective,” said the minister.
Local villagers were excited they were now able to communicate with relatives and friends from across the world.
“I am happy that we are now connected to the world a year later after Cyclone Idai ravaged our communities, “said Bothwell Makahamadze.