The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has hinted at the possibility of accommodating a fifth operator within the country’s telecommunications market in a bid to increase competition.
ZICTA director general Patrick Mutimunshi said a fifth operator could compete with MTZ Zambia, Airtel Zambia, Zamtel as well as Uzi Zambia, which is yet to begin operations.
Mutimunshi said the regulator’s mandate is to make sure that there is competition in the market and that this competition is sustained.
He said, “The new licencing regime that we have has opened up the market for anyone to come in the country and invest. There is still the possibility of us accommodating a fifth operator that can still be able to make profit because at the end of the day, the operations must be sustainable.”
While Mutimunshi did not provide detail over the immediate future of Uzi Zambia, he said the Authority did not get the results it wanted from the fourth operator.
According to the Minister of Communications and Transport Mutotwe Kafwaya, Uzi has assured authorities of its readiness to launch operations in May this year following a six-month extension granted to the operator in November 2019.
Kafwaya said he is confident the operator will launch this time because “it still has over three months to complete the remaining work.”
An insider at ZICTA, who requested anonymity, told ITWeb Africa that the government, through ZICTA, has already made a market analysis that supports the entry of a fifth operator and the market will still be profitable.
The source said the government is eager to see the telecommunications sector grow from current levels to a point where the resulting competition pushes down the high cost of voice communication and data services.
According to official statistics, Zambia’s mobile penetration rate has now reached 97.2% of the population, with 16, 889, 138 customers representing all three active operators out of a population of 17 million.