Zambia allows fourth mobile service operator

LUSAKA. – A consumer group yesterday welcomed the decision by the Zambian government to allow for the entrance of a fourth mobile phone service provider, saying it will enhance competition and bring down the cost of communication services.

On Tuesday, Minister of Transport and Communications Brian Mushimba said the cabinet has approved the coming of a fourth mobile phone service provider and has since given the country’s telecommunication and technology regulator to start the bidding process.

He said the move to allow for a fourth operator was necessitated by the high cost of communication services in the country. The Zambia Consumer Association said the decision to allow for another operator was a good move as it will give consumers a wide choice on which operator to deal with. “Although it is long overdue we are happy that the government has now decided to allow for the entrance of more mobile phone service providers,” Juba Sakala, acting executive director of the consumer group told Xinhua in an interview.

“This will result in stiff competition and result in lower cost of telecommunication services.” He said the entrance of another operator will force the existing companies to improve their services.

According to the government, the fourth mobile phone service operator could be in place over the next six-12 months and that the country could still have the capacity for a fifth operator.

Currently, Zambia has three mobile phone service operators namely MTN Zambia, a subsidiary of South Africa’s MTN which accounts for the largest share of the market at 48.3 percent, Airtel Zambia, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel at 41.4 percent, and Cell-Z, a subsidiary of the state-run telecommunication firm, Zamtel, which accounts for 10.4 percent of the market. – Xinhua.

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