Zambia to spend US$272mn to build 469 mobile towers

Mobile Tower Clive Darra FlickrThe new towers will be owned, managed and maintained by state-owned Zamtel. (Image source: Clive Darra/Flickr)The Zambian government has announced plans to build 469 mobile phone communication towers at a cost of US$272mn

Government-owned telecommunications company Zamtel has been appointed to own, manage and maintain the planned infrastructure. The Southern African country’s minister of communications and transport, Kapembwa Simbao, told lawmakers that the towers will be distributed across the country’s ten provinces, including rural areas, to maximise the benefit from them and connect the largest possible number of people to mobile phone communication services.

In a statement delivered to the parliament, Simbao said that the government wants to empower Zamtel so that it can improve its service delivery and expand its services. “The construction of the mobile phone communication towers will be financed through a concession loan facility,” Simbao said.

At present, Zamtel is Zambia’s smallest mobile operator with less than two million customers, while MTN is the country’s largest operator, followed by Airtel. Those are the three mobile service operators in Zambia.

The government wants the new towers to be owned and managed solely by Zamtel. The move is expected to help grow Zamtel’s market share because it will expand its reach and delivery services to rural areas and allow it to compete with rival operators that have already expanded their networks.

The new towers will complement the existing 169 towers that are already constructed through the Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) in rural areas of the country. Those towers are owned by ZICTA and shared among the country’s three mobile phone service providers.

The minister did not disclose when the project will start, saying that the government is still arranging for the loan facility.

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