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Vodafone Zambia positions itself to scoop upcoming operator license

Vodafone Zambia positions itself to scoop upcoming operator license

The announcement made last week Friday by Zambia's Transport and Communications Minister, Brian Mushimba that approval has been granted by the cabinet for a new licensing framework in the telecommunications industry has received praise from Vodafone Zambia.

The company is widely expected to apply for a fourth license in the country's voice market following the government's decision which the Minister said was intended to reform the sector and spur investment.

Lars Stork, CEO at Vodafone Zambia says the landmark decision coincided with Zambian consumers' increasing desire for more variety and competitiveness in the industry.

"We applaud Cabinet, particularly the Ministry of Transport and Communication under the leadership of Hon. Brian Mushimba, for this step. As Vodafone Zambia, we are excited about what this means for Zambian consumers who will soon have a multiplicity of communication options best suited to their needs. We are convinced that this decision will open the door for innovation, leading to excellence in service delivery,"

Figures released by the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) in 2016 show that the country's mobile phone market has just over 12 million subscribers in a population of 16 million people. Geographical National Network Coverage among current players sees MTN Zambia leading at 44.1 % followed by Airtel Zambia at 42.7% and state-owned Zamtel at 27%.

Vodafone Zambia's launched services that include Band 40 2.3GHz TDD in June 2016 following an initial investment of US$40 million in the deployment of its network in the country. The company did this through a partnership with Airspan Networks Inc. which provides LTE small cell and small cell backhaul solutions to deploy LTE-Advanced indoor and outdoor network solutions.

While Stork would not divulge details on future plans for Vodafone Zambia, he emphasised that the pronouncement by Minster Mushimba would create strong incentives to invest and innovate, paving way for what he says would be superior products and services that will contribute toward bridging the digital divide.

"We anticipate increased investment in the sector, translating into better quality of service for the consumer, increased employment opportunities and revenue vital for development projects. This decision will forever be etched in Zambia's development story and its ripple effect will be felt for generations to come,"

While Stork's sentiments echo those of the Minster to some extent, Mushimba only went as far as saying that the new licensing framework "could facilitate the entry of a long-awaited fourth mobile phone service provider" following the cabinet decision.

"With this new framework in place, we shall see jobs created and the quality of service will improve and it will introduce competition and the low cost of communication that comes with it. We have cleaned up the licensing framework to unleash the potential of the industry mindful of the latest technological advancements in the sector,"

Mushimba has previously lamented the poor network coverage in much of Zambia, including during the first Session of the Twelfth Assembly of Zambia's parliament where he announced Phase II of construction of communication towers to increase coverage in unserved and underserved areas and improve the mobile communication network and related ICT infrastructure through Zamtel.

"Zambia is vast and wide, and our rural areas continue to be sparsely populated. Therefore, they are considered to not be viable business areas by the mobile network operators like such as Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) and Airtel, which means that the digital gap between rural and urban areas still remains a challenge and the Government has to step in and bridge it. "

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