ZESCO Limited has launched the second phase of its approximately KR300 million (US$60 million) optic fibre network which will cover 10 provinces and 46 urban and rural towns in Zambia.
This follows the complete installation of 5,300 kilometres of optic fibre cable on Zesco's high voltage lines.
Managing director Cyprian Chitundu said the total investment cost of the 6,500 kilometre fibre on the high voltage lines by the end of 2013 would be $93.2 million.
Mr Chitundu said this during the launch of the optic fibre network in Lusaka on Wednesday night.
This investment in the fibrecom network is a great achievement for ZESCO with immense social, technological and economic benefits," Mr Chitundu said.
He said the fibre network would enhance efficiency and reliability on the power utility through control and management of the country-wide electricity network through high voltage line protection, smart metering, inter-country GRID Operations and National Call Centre Operations.
The optic fibre network would also enhance quality of ZESCO's operations by minimising operational costs through the live video conferencing meeting system to reduce on meeting travel expenses, private internal telephone network, stores and procurement systems.
Fleet management and vehicle tracking system are also included to reduce on abuse and road traffic accidents through fuel consumption and speed monitoring. Mr Chitundu said the company would, in addition, improve its customer service levels using online billing, customer management and fault management systems.
He expressed hope that the power utility firm, would reduce on vandalism using real-time remote surveillance systems and access control of key installations on the fibrecom network.
The network would further enable Zambia to have a fast and most extensive telecommunications backbone covering most of Zambia's urban and rural towns in all the 10 provinces.
In addition to the two current international links through Namibia and Tanzania to the ocean submarine optic fibre cables, the fibrecom would soon be connected to five neighbouring countries, namely Congo DR, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Malawi, thereby creating a telecommunications hub in the region.
Speaking at the same function, Minister of Mines, Energy and Water Development Yamfwa Mukanga implored ZESCO to ensure that once the loans for rolling out the fibre networks were paid back, future revenues from the telecommunications business was invested in the electrification programmes.
The minister said since the telecommunication industry was liberalised in 1994, Government authorised ZESCO to sell excess capacity on its microwave radio and optic fibre networks.
The revenue from ZESCO's telecommunications business was being used to pay back the loans for the huge investments on rolling out the fibre networks and also on the operation and maintenance of the same networks.