The Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) has published its Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector annual market report for the year 2020, and many of its findings – and predictions – are positive.
Among the highlights are increased access to, and utilisation of, ICT services in Zambia, including what is described as ‘a marked increase’ in active mobile telephone subscriptions – from 17.2 million reported at the end of 2019 to 19.1 million subscriptions recorded at the end of 2020.
The total number of active internet subscriptions in the country also increased – from 9.2 million subscriptions reported at the end of 2019 to 10.3 million recorded at the end of 2020.
Combined throughput volume of data among the mobile network operators also went up, and there was a doubling of the value of mobile money transactions. These developments, ZICTA points out, followed numerous efforts by the Authority and other stakeholders aimed at promoting increased access and usage of ICTs, especially in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
There was also improvement on the network infrastructure side of ICT. The total number of telecommunication sites in the country increased from 10,303 reported in 2019 to 10,574 sites in 2020. The largest proportion of the sites in 2020 continued to be 2G sites, accounting for 41.1 per cent, followed by 3G sites at 32.9 per cent. Only 26 per cent of the telecommunication sites were 4G/LTE sites.
Overall the mobile telephone subsector recorded a significant increase in revenue and throughput volume of data, though the average utilisation of available network transmission capacity of wholesale carriers remained weak.
And the prospects for 2021 are good, with forecasts suggesting a positive outlook in the general uptake and use of ICT services in 2021. Zambia can also look forward to the arrival of a fourth mobile operator, newly assigned spectrum for operator Airtel and the deployment of new technologies and additional infrastructure.
This year should also see the passing of new legislation to support data protection, electronic transactions and cyber security, overhauling previous, presumably outdated, legislation.