ZAMBIA – UZI Zambia Mobile Ltd, a subsidiary of Unitel International Holdings, a Dutch-headquartered and global BV, has finalised various licensing formalities to be Zambia’s fourth communication service provider. It is set to begin operations in the country before the year closes.

The commencement of business by the company, which initially operated in Angola, has been delayed since last year to enable the Zambian government and the would-be fourth service provider to agree on investment and terms of operations.

Other requirements that delayed the operationalisation of the company, despite its licence being active, are the need to facilitate the recruitment of over 40 staff and secure offices.

In an earlier interview, Misheck Lungu, Zambia’s permanent secretary for communications, had stated:  “They initially wanted to open up business in November last year but they instead shelved to January or February to finalise a number of formalities, including frequencies but this was also delayed to later this year.”

The fourth mobile service provider in Zambia comes as a response to an outcry by end-users over the inept services received from the existing companies, Airtel, MTN and state-owned Zamtel.

Last year, UZI Zambia won the licence to enter the local market after ZICTA floated a public tender. According to economic experts, the UZI Zambia investment would contribute to the growth and development of the telecommunications sector in the country through the implementation of the latest LTE technology to provide reliable and high-quality products and services through a national 4G network, and investment in 5G network soon.

“UZI Zambia Mobile will create new jobs and opportunities in Zambia and will focus on the training and development of all its employees as well as building its relationships with the local communities through its social responsibility programmes,” John Kasanga, an independent trade and economic consultant, said.

Bright Chizonde, head researcher at Centre for Trade and Development, welcomed UZI Zambia’s commencement of business adding: “The coming of UZI will assist pull up the socks among some of the mobile service providers whose services leaves much to be desired.”

During the first half of 2017, active mobile-phone subscriptions in Zambia increased by 3.4% to 12.4 million, according to the Finance Ministry, compared to the country’s population of about 16.5 million.