Zamtel aiming to reclaim ZESCO fibre infrastructure?

3 Jul 2012

Zambia’s monopoly provider of fixed line services, Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited (Zamtel), is reportedly working on efforts to reclaim the ZESCO fibre-optic network, The Post of Zambia reports. As noted in TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, in February 2010 the Zambian government placed a number of fibre pairs – previously controlled by state-owned power company ZESCO – under the control of Zamtel as a way of making the telco more attractive to potential buyers, as its privatisation process progressed. However, in October 2011, following the election into power of the opposition Patriotic Front party, new president Michael Sata launched an investigation into the Zamtel privatisation process, as part of which the ZESCO fibre deal came under scrutiny. The following month, the inquiry ruled that the infrastructure should indeed be returned to the utility company, claiming ZESCO had been forced into the transfer under intense political pressure. The sale of Zamtel, meanwhile, was officially reversed in January 2012.

Now though it has been suggested that Zamtel is seeking the return of the fibre-optic pairs, amid claims that the telco’s managing director, Dr Mupanga Mwanakatwe, is using his influence in government to push for such a development. For his part, Dr Mwanakatwe was cited as saying of the matter that there were ‘discussions going on between ZESCO and Zamtel’ which also included the Ministry of Communications and Transport. However, when questioned over the claims that he was personally pursuing the return of the fibre infrastructure to Zamtel, the executive was cited as saying: ‘That is a matter of discussion between the parties involved and their shareholder because the two companies are 100% owned by the Government of the Republic of Zambia. So whoever has been telling you that, the best way is to get a response from … the permanent secretary for the Ministry of Transport.’