According to unconfirmed local press reports, South Africa’s Vodacom Group has been ‘secretly’ awarded the country’s fourth mobile licence. However, communications minister Chris Yaluma has cast doubts over the rumours, telling IT Web Africa that the Zambian government ‘is still working on the modalities of awarding [the concession]’. Yaluma stressed that, if and when, the government decides to introduce a formal licence it will strive for greater transparency in the award process.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Vodacom has coveted Zambia’s elusive fourth mobile licence since its first flirtation with the country’s wireless market in 2002, when it was issued a mobile concession by then-regulator the Communications Authority of Zambia (CAZ). The licence was later withdrawn though, amid claims there was not sufficient spectrum in the country. In November 2009, following the successful resolution of the spectrum shortage, the still-vacant spectrum was offered to Vodacom once again. This time the company confirmed that it would not proceed with negotiations, preferring to focus on its existing operations, rather than making new investments. Since then Vodacom has made its presence felt in Zambia by acquiring a controlling stake in WiMAX provider AfriConnect, opening the door for future developments in the wireless sector.