The Zimbabwe government has requested China to lend it money for use in developing information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure in remote areas which it will repay through revenue it collects under the Universal Services Fund.

ICT and Courier Services Minister Super Mandiwanzira said this after meeting Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe Huang Ping who had paid him a courtesy call at his offices here Thursday.

The discussion with His Excellency, the Chinese ambassador has therefore been how we can access resources which we guarantee repayment through the inflows to the Universal Service Fund," he said.

Mmandiwanzira said the Zimbabwe government was very grateful for the support it received from the Chinese government through the China Exim Bank to develop ICT infrastructure in the country. He said the government was looking for support to connect the whole country through the Internet.

Licensed telecommunication companies in the country contribute 1.5 per cent of their gross annual turnover to the USF, which the Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) administers.

The USF was established to provide funding for extending telecommunications networks beyond the borders of economic viability to reach marginalized communities in rural areas.

POTRAZ is undertaking a number of projects around the country using money from the fund to improve ICT infrastructure. Mandiwanzira said there were many areas in the country which still did

not have telecommunication services and it was the responsibility of POTRAZ to invest in these areas using the USF.

Huang said President Mugabe had a fruitful meeting with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, which formed the direction that cooperation between the two countries would take in the new year and in the near future.

One of the areas we need to strengthen is telecommunication. In China we have a saying if you want to get rich build the roads first and I think telecommunication is the road connecting people, not only in this country but to the whole world," he said.

The China Exim Bank gave fixed telephone network provider Telone a 98 million US dollar loan to expand its infrastructure and 218 million USD to mobile phone company Netone at concessionay ratess to upgrade its network.

Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologis undertook both projects.