Zamtel Mobile, the wireless operating arm of national fixed line operator Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (Zamtel), has announced that it has passed the one million subscriber mark. According to ZambiaWatchdog.com, Zamtel chief commercial officer Amon Jere claims that the cellco has raised its subscriber base from ‘less than 100,000 to a million customers, an achievement previously considered impossible to [meet] within record time of less than twelve months’. Jere attributed its success to ‘diligent leadership with an abated focus on investment’; during 2011 Zamtel Mobile increased GSM coverage from 261 cell sites to more than 400, whilst deploying over 250 new 3G base stations in key cities across Zambia.
According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the cellco was the last of the country’s three operators to launch when it introduced its commercial service in August 2003 – more than four years later than either of its rivals Airtel or MTN. That delay gifted the by-then well established rivals a considerable head start, a fact that has ultimately cost both Zamtel Mobile and its parent company dearly. However, the cellular unit’s fortunes have improved dramatically following Zamtel’s July 2010 privatisation, which saw 75% of the company divested to Libya-based LAP Green Network, a firm that has built a solid reputation by breathing new life into ailing state-owned telcos in recent years.