Malekani people to taste Facebook, WhatsApp for the first time

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THERE was ukukunkula (sort of prostration) and mfunkutu dancing among Bembas of Lukutu ward in Luwingu district when one of their own, Felix Mutati – the Minister of Technology and Science – took some good news that they will soon start liking, commenting and sharing on Facebook, and seeing one’s last seen and status on WhatsApp, once a communication tower is erected.

All that is needed for such to be seen is patience for three months – way lesser than the patience exercised when waiting for a “bundro” of joy, for instance.

From the time Zambia got her independence 59 years ago, the people of Lukutu ward in Luwingu district of Northern Province have been living with all sorts of hardships, like any other typical rural area of Zambia.

But it’s like the locals here will, after three months from now, have ukusefya pa network tower ceremony, thanks to the Ministry of Technology and Science that identified Malekani area in Lukutu ward as one that needs to have, for the first time, mobile phone network.

To actualise such a communication milestone, Mutati flashed affable smiles yesterday, as he officiated at the ground-breaking event for the construction of a 60 metre tall communication tower.

Infratel Telecommunications and ICT Infrastructure company has been engaged to construct the tower and works are expected to be completed in the next three months from now.

The communication tower will allow mobile phone network access to MTN, Airtel and Zamtel networks in the area.

According to the Ministry of Technology and Science, the communication tower construction in Lukutu is part of the 150 phase one communication towers construction for 2023.

Once the communication tower is as erect as FINDECO house on Cairo road in Lusaka, residents of Lukutu will have to spare their energies, drawn from cassava meal, by not travelling a 20 kilometre journey to go to a network zone to say “eya mukwai” each time they make or receive phone calls.

More interesting is that the communication tower will not only enable Lukutu residents to make/receive clear phone calls; it will also make those with Smart phones to post on Facebook photos of themselves harvesting cassava and amale (millet).

At the ground-breaking event, Mutati said the installation of a communication tower in Lukutu is part of the government’s campaign promise to the locals, during campaigns for Lubansenshi Constituency’s Lukutu ward by-elections in April 2022.

“Last year, President Hichilema and I visited your area and he promised to bring you a network tower, so [that] you can never walk kilometres to access network connection ever again. Today, that promise has been fulfilled,” said Mutati.

Meanwhile, Luwingu district commissioner Chomba Chileshe thanked the government for identifying Lukutu as one of the prime areas in need of mobile phone network connectivity, among many other deserving areas countrywide.

MTN Northern strategic business unit head Alex Chirwa said on top of job creation for the youths in Lukutu, MTN shall sensitise all its would-be clients and users on the network short codes and services.

Lukutu ward UPND councillor Peter Chanda also thanked the government for fulfilling its promise of the highly yearned for communication tower.

By Buumba Mwitumwa in Luwingu

Kalemba, April 16, 2022

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