Zambia hints at fifth telco operator

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Monday, Feb 24th

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Zambia gives Uzi fresh ultimatum

Zambia gives Uzi fresh ultimatum

Zambian authorities have confirmed plans to revoke Uzi Zambia's licence if the company fails to launch its network operation by May 2020.

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

The company vowed to make an initial investment of US$350-million.

Minister of Communications and Transport Mutotwe Kafwaya confirmed that the government is looking for another investor to replace Uzi should the operator fail to meet the ultimatum.

Kafwaya said it's not the duty of the Zambian government to give Uzi money to solve its financial challenges, but it is to ensure an environment conducive to doing business.

"We have given them up to May to launch operation but it's not (up to) us to give them money to set the network otherwise we will revoke the licence," he continued.

Patrick Mutimunshi, Director General of the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) also confirmed the ultimatum.

Mutimunshi said the authority expected Uzi to start the operation a year after getting a licence but that nothing has happened, and added that the regulator has implemented measures to evaluate the company's progress.

He said, "Before we could give a licence, due diligence was done and Uzi, because their international partners are Unitel of Angola and also because they have some operations in Europe, everything was satisfactory. But right now we don't have the Uzi network and probably that licence will be withdrawn from them."

Uzi has to date not responded to requests for comment.

An insider at the company, who spoke to ITWeb Africa under condition of anonymity, said the operator is acting under instruction from the regulator not to comment on the matter nor on anything related to its licence in the country.

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