Zambia is aiming for 100% national network coverage by the end of 2024 with the help of the country’s Universal Access and Services Fund and money raised from the sale of spectrum.
Authorities want to reinvest resources in rural areas in line with the country’s digital transformation agenda and, with this in mind, the government has suggested it needs to put up an additional 106 towers on top of the 1,000 already sited.
The government has over US$41 million to use, which it gained from auctioning of spectrum by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA).
Airtel Zambia, which paid US$29 million for 60 MHz of additional spectrum spread across the 800MHz and 2600MHz bands, was the big spender during this year’s auction. It had also won 20MHz of radio spectrum in the 800MHz frequency band in January 2021, for which it reportedly paid $12.5 million. In March 2021 MTN Zambia paid US$13.5 million for additional spectrum, also in the 800MHz band.
Some enabling initiatives are already in place. As we noted in October, the country is now zero-rating the importation of telecommunications equipment, notably equipment used in the construction of telecommunications masts. And only a few days ago, MTN announced it had launched 5G. Airtel is expected to follow suit fairly soon.
ITWeb Africa reports that the Zambian Science and Technology Minister Felix Mutati has said that the government is working closely with MTN Zambia, Airtel Networks Zambia and the state-owned operator Zamtel in order to achieve its coverage aims.