Shiwang’andu phone owners to Google for the first time as government upgrades towers


SMART phone owners in Shiwang’andu district of Muchinga Province are spending sleepless nights learning how to use Google, Facebook and WhatsApp among other internet based-applications following government’s announcement of delivering internet to the area.

The Ministry of Technology and Science has announced that it will upgrade all the 87 towers in Muchinga Province to 3G and 4G with the first upgrade being made this Friday in Mawembe ward.

Despite having a 50 meter tall network tower erected in the area, people of Mayembe ward in Shiwang’andu district have no internet connectivity because the tower is only a 2nd Generation (2G) with the capacity to only receive and send calls.

But this is not a challenge that is only being faced by this over 2,000 populated ward as out of the 110 towers in the whole Muchinga Province, 87 of them operate under 2G network and have no or proper access to the internet and social media platforms such as Facebook.

A 2G network is the second generation of cellular networks, based on the Global System for Mobile Communication (GSM). Designed to accommodate the growing number of mobile phones. Areas with such a network, such as Mawembe ward of Shiwang’andu district are only limited to SMS and calls.

On his recent trip to the area, Minister of Technology and Science Felix Mutati had some good news for the residents.

“Muchinga is one of those provinces that have the vast of towers that operate on 2G. 87 of the 110 towers in the area are 2G. But the limitation of this is network is that the radius is low and you cant use it for data.

“So specifically here in Shiwang’andu on the tower we see here, we are barely standing on a 100 yards from it, and we still don’t have network. This is a major limitation to development on the people. So the step we are going to take is that we will upgrade this tower from 2G to 3G and it will be able to reach 30 to 40 radius which is very large and also, it will be able to deploy and accept data. So you are going to have both voice and data,” said Mutati.

The minister said in addition to the upgrade, two more towers will be erected in the district and three in the neighboring constituencies.

The new tower will be commissioned subsequently but launched this week.

The combination of the upgrade and construction of a tower will mean that 80 percent of Shiwang’andu will be fully connected to both mobile network and vast internet connectivity.

And Mawembe village Headman, Anthony Mwansa has thanked government for considering the ward among those to benefit from proper internet connectivity, especially that the area lacked a single network tower two years ago.

Mwansa said the development will see the newly-opened health center in the area being connected to the internet, as before, residents had several challenges in accessing proper network especially with Airtel and MTN networks because the tower only caters for Zamtel, with a short radius coverage.

And a resident, Memory Mwila expressed joy towards the tower upgrade, noting that the upgrade and installation of two towers will see most of the villagers starting up new businesses such as mobile money services, and also help school going children to tap on the technology advancements in the education sector.

In the 2024 National budget, Finance Minister, Situmbeko Musokotwane pronounced that money will be allocated to the technology sector to construct 169 more communication towers country wide, with a creation of various Digital Transformation Centers.

By Buumba Mwitumwa in Shiwang’andu, Muchinga Province

Kalemba January 21, 2024


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