US23,6m internet backbone, a game changer

Brian Mutonhori

The commissioning of the National Backbone Fibre Link (NBFL) by President Mnangagwa recently in Beitbridge is a game changer in the country’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector and the economy as it is one of the “key enablers” for the national vision of the attainment an upper middle income status by 2030.

Directly funded by the China Export and Import Bank as a fulfilment of the mega economic deals signed between Zimbabwe and China last year, the project presents Zimbabwe with vast opportunities to revive and expand its economy.

We look at the some of the economic benefits that will be accrued from the project.

Regional Communications Hub

The fibre link connects Zimbabwe with the rest of the world through a South African seacom cable and is set to provide transit services that enable other SADC countries such as Zambia, Angola among others to connect to the whole world through the robust network. Thus, the country will realise significant amounts of foreign currency in interconnection fees.

Improved trade between rural, urban and international markets

In his speech during the commissioning of the project, President Mnangagwa said, “this project is undoubtedly set to have 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.”

A strong internet linkage resting on the robust national fibre link for the rural folks in Muzarabani, Tsholotsho, Binga, Buhera among other areas with their urban counterparts presents vast opportunities to thrive in a modern economy as it provides economic betterment of rural people as well as greater social transformation to eliminate poverty, ignorance and inequality of opportunities.

Rural people will be able to access information, communication and better urban and international markets through digital advertising.

Adoption of new technologies

With the latest advent of the 5G or ‘fifth generation’ technology that is expected to be officially launched worldwide soon, the NBFL provides the necessary, critical and robust national infrastructure platform to launch the technology in the country.

This will bring reliable, high bandwidth speeds to areas that typically lack coverage, and in turn, enable precisions of ICTs in Agriculture, ICTs in Education, ICTs in Health, ICTs in Disaster Management, among other ICT technologies.

This will greatly improve the economy of Zimbabwe given the backward and forward linkages in the sector.

An enabler of employment creation

The world’s most tech-ready country, Singapore, is one case study that has transformed its economy through ICT innovations, creating more job opportunities for its citizenry.

Singapore government through its “Smart Nation Initiative” is laying down strong ICT foundations that will enable professionals from different backgrounds to come together and push the Singapore economy forward. The initiatives to equip everyone even children with ICT skills would help attain the goal of positioning Singapore as ICT hub and world’s first Smart Nation.

Thus, Zimbabwe with this new robust NBLF, several players in the ICT sector namely the researchers, innovators, coders, software engineers and entrepreneurs can develop top notch applications that ride on this huge internet capability. This will create more employment opportunities as well as spur economic growth in the country.


Going forward, it is imperative that Zimbabweans will use the NBFL infrastructure as a catalyst to modernize and industrialise the economy both in rural and urban areas, rather than using the internet connection for instigating violence and hatred amongst ourselves.

Let’s all harness the opportunities arising from this national critical infrastructure to advance growth of devolved provincial economies and rural industries.