A sale of Zambia Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) is reportedly no longer a condition of the USD1.3 billion loan which the country is seeking to support its economic recovery programme. According to ITWeb Africa, the stipulation that the fixed line incumbent should be sold by the state had been made by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) after Zambia applied for the loan. However, a recent statement by IMF team leader Tsidi Tsikata was said to feature a list of conditions that the country will still have to fulfil to gain approval for the financial support, but the Zamtel sale was conspicuous by its absence.
In separate but related news, ITWeb Africa also reports that Zamtel has confirmed exceeding a 1.5 million subscriber target (believed to relate to its mobile voice operations), with a goal of passing the two million milestone by the end of this year. Acting Zamtel CEO Sydney Mupeta was cited as saying that the company’s growth had come as a result of the financial support the company is receiving from its current owner, state-owned Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), as well as from the Ministry of Communications and Transport and the Ministry of Finance. According to Mupeta, the operator’s success has also been attributed in part to the recent launch of its ‘All Networks’ tariff, which allows customers to call subscribers on other networks cheaply.
With a view to supporting future growth and boosting accessibility in both rural and urban areas, Mupeta confirmed that Zamtel is looking to roll out new infrastructure, saying: ‘To grow [our] data customer [base], in the last three years we rolled out an additional 543 3G sites and we have started rolling out 4G sites to enable Zamtel network ultra-high speed data services. This is in addition to many 2G and 3G sites that will be dotted across the country.’ Zamtel is understood to have teamed up with Huawei to allow its 3G network to handle more traffic, and here, it has been confirmed that upgrade works have now been completed from Kitwe to Chililabombwe, while equipment for the rest of the country is still being manufactured by the Chinese vendor.