Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

4G/5G

Unitel's Zambia Plans in Disarray

Article Image
With its service launch delayed by more than a year, Unitel is in danger of losing the mobile network license it was issued almost two years ago by the authorities in Zambia.

In March 2018, the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) awarded two 15-year licenses (one national, one international) to Unitel to enable it to become the country's fourth mobile operator and provide additional competition for the three existing operators -- MTN, Airtel and state-owned Zamtel. Unitel pledged to invest US$350 million in a new network and create 450 new jobs. (See Unitel Lands Zambia's Fourth Mobile License.)

Unitel, which is the dominant telco in Angola, also pledged that its new operation, Uzi Zambia, would be up and running by the end of 2018. When that didn't happen it set a new launch date of February 2019, but that was also abandoned, with technical issues related to the deployment and testing of its 4G network, and ongoing discussions with ZICTA about the license terms and conditions, cited as the reason.

Now local media reports suggest Uzi is still in limbo, with Zambia's transport and communications minister Misheck Lungu quoted by the country's Daily Mail as saying the operator is still in the process of "mobilizing funds," while other reports suggest ZICTA is set to seek an alternative operator to replace Unitel/Uzi.

The development follows the decision by ZICTA in September 2019 to cancel the license held by Afrimax subsidiary Mobile Broadband, which had launched operations using the Vodafone Zambia brand. (See Afrimax's Vodafone Zambia Gets Its Marching Orders .)

ZICTA had allocated spectrum for a fourth mobile operator in the hope that a new entrant would be the catalyst for improved mobile services in a country with a population of about 17 million and a mobile penetration rate of around 100%. It looks like Zambians still have a long wait before a new name enters the mobile services market.

— The staff, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Hot startup of the month: Pan-African fintech KamaPay

This month's hot startup is pan-African fintech KamaPay, which helps individuals and businesses make cross-border payments on the continent.

Story

Afretec awards $3.3M in grants to African research teams

The African Engineering and Technology Network (Afretec) has awarded grants worth $300,000 each to 11 university research teams across Africa to advance digital technologies.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Sponsored video

More videos

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Flash poll

All polls

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Deep dive into East Africa's tech startup ecosystem

New survey reveals a lack of access to investors, reliance on international VCs and global recession trends as the biggest barriers for East African tech startups to access funds.

Story

Challenges and opportunities for women's tech careers

A new survey reveals that COVID-19, the cost-of-living crisis, skills shortages and a lack of mentorship have negatively affected women's career development over the past two years.

Story

Survey: Opportunities for Women in Tech

Take our new survey for women across Asia, Europe and Africa looking at the biggest challenges and opportunities for women-led enterprises and trends in tech careers for women.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Upcoming events

London Tech Week
June 13-16, 2023
Queen Elizabeth II Centre, Broad Sanctuary, London SW1P 3EE
Cybertech Africa 2023
August 1-2, 2023
Kigali Convention Center, Kigali, Rwanda
Africa Tech Festival, Home of AfricaCom and AfricaTech
November 13-16, 2023
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: February 2023

By Omdia Analysts

In February 2023 key events in the Middle East and Africa included a major Internet project for Africa's underserved by Liquid Intelligent Technologies and Microsoft as well as a 5G launch in Tanzania – that and more in this month's Omdia View.

Story

Omdia View: July 2022

By Omdia Analysts

Kenya and Zambia move towards 5G with new spectrum allocations while Tunisie Telecom plans to shut down its 3G network - that and more in this month's Omdia View.

More Guest Perspectives

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up