Aquiva Wireless soon to launch new broadband Internet service in Zimbabwe


Aquiva Wireless, a locally-owned telecommunications company, has signed a US$7,2 million deal with a Chinese company, Huawei Technologies, to establish 92 base stations for broadband Internet and Voice over Internet Protocol. Chief executive Mr Brian Maphosa said his company would be listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange through an initial public offering before the end of the year. "We have signed a US$7,2 million deal with a Chinese company and we are hoping to roll out before the end of July -- providing VoIP and broadband Internet," said Mr Maphosa. He said discussions to list on the local bourse have already started. By listing, the company will be able to expand and grow its shareholder base. The Chinese firm will provide the 92 base stations, key solutions, shipping and installation. Meanwhile, Aquiva is also on the verge of clinching a US$3,6 million deal with Seacom to link fibre optic cable from South Africa to Beitbridge to be linked throughout the country, starting with Harare and Bulawayo. Mr Maphosa said each of the major cities like Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare, and the highway, and towns in between, would be "wired-up", then connected to each other. Aquiva, which was formed in 2007 by three local entrepreneurs, was awarded an Internet Access Provider (AIP) Class A licence by the regulating board, the Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, this year. Going forward, Aquiva chief operations officer Mr Artwell Mataranyika said the company would also offer calling card, video telephony, live TV channels, and video on demand, among other value-added products. Mr Maphosa said negotiations with other service providers to offer value-added products such as calling card are at an advanced stage. He said the establishment of the company was driven mainly by the passion to connect Zimbabwe to the world in a way that is convenient to customers. Mr Mataranyika said the benefits were too many to enumerate, saying only "the impact on the country will be enormous. Government, businesses, homes, will all benefit. It will make our industries competitive on a global scale." Landlocked countries like Zimbabwe, Malawi, Botswana, and Zambia, have a major disadvantage because they do not have direct access to the undersea cables that have been laid along the coasts, providing cheap and effective global connectivity. This means their people and businesses do not have access to broadband, leaving them lagging behind on the digital highway and the new industries it is spurning. These countries rely almost exclusively on satellite links, which are very slow and expensive.