Zambia looks for fourth operator as UZI admits defeat

Zambia looks for fourth operator as UZI admits defeat

Zambian press reports indicate that would-be fourth operator UZI Zambia Limited has finally abandoned its attempts to roll out a network.

UZI Zambia apparently recently wrote to the regulator, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), informing it that it will not be entering the market following the expiry of its most recent extension.

And there have been quite a few extensions so far. It’s hard to credit now, but the would-be fourth mobile phone operator was originally planning to launch in December 2018. After it failed to do so UZI Zambia confirmed it would launch operations in February 2019. Again this didn’t happen.

UZI’s investment licence was extended for the last time in February this year. The company was given until May to pull together the funding it needed for a commercial launch. An official at Zambia’s Ministry of Transport and Communication (MoTC), told media outlets at the time that a lack of resources had delayed the MNO’s commercial launch and that it was looking to ensure its investment was not interrupted once it became operational. In May 2020, Uzi requested a further extension, this time for a period of 120 days. This was rejected by ZICTA.

Nothing has happened since and it appears that UZI has finally admitted defeat. The ministry is now planning to look at a possible alternative operator to take on the country’s fourth license. 

UZI, whose major shareholder is Unitel International Holdings B.V, registered in the Netherlands, first secured a network licence in March 2018, valid for 15 years, to compete against MTN Zambia, Airtel Zambia and Zamtel.

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