The Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) newly appointed Chief Executive Officer Patrick Mutimushi has demonstrated his intention to drive timely implementation of reforms in the lucrative Zambian Telecoms market by issuing a two months Request For Proposal (RFP) invitation to global and regional telecoms players wishing to enter the Zambian market.
The RFP was issued on Tuesday 26 September, pursuant to the licensing guidelines of 2017. Mutimushi in the RFP emailed to ZBT stated that ” ZICTA now invites proposals that will lead to issuance of international network and national service license.”
The network license will be under the international market segment that authorise the licensee to install and commission gateway facilities, switching centers and servers. The second part of the service license will be in relation to provision to the public voice, message, internet services, VoIP, data services and various other services.
The license proposal documents are obtainable from ZICTA upon payment of ZMW1,000,000 (about US$108,000) non-refundable fee. This fee structure has not been differentiated for the local businesses in line with the current Government of Zambian procurement policy of giving locals preferential rates as the same amount applies to both local and international bidders effectively pre-qualifying only the huge regional and global telecom players.
The ZICTA proposal requirements are also silent on requirements for bidders to demonstrate their ability to offer competitive pricing for mobile internet and data services which is the current cry among local consumers. The price of mobile internet and data services in Zambia are among the highest in the region and in Africa, with citizens calls for additional licenses being made to ensure that the telecoms market competition is enhanced with the ultimate aim of getting the price points for both voice and internet services to be more affordable and regionally comparable.
Zambia has remained behind within Africa on innovation through digital and internet means mainly due structural constraints within the local Telecoms sector. There is need to re-structure the industry for Zambia to stand a chance of its youth to fully exploit the globally exploding digital economy.