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.


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


Orange Ventures, Digital Africa promise more funding for startups

Orange Ventures and Digital Africa are teaming up to invest more in tech startups in Africa and the Middle East through Digital Africa's Fuz program and the Orange Digital Center network.


Hot startup of the month: Rwanda's Ampersand

Connecting Africa's hot startup this month is Rwanda's Ampersand, which designs, builds, and manufactures electric motorcycles and battery packs for motorcycle taxis.

More Innovation hub

Latest video

More videos

Partner perspectives

All Partner Perspectives

Sponsored video

More videos

Follow us on X

Industry announcements

More Industry announcements

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival 2024
November 11-14, 2024
Cape Town, South Africa
More Upcoming events

Africa Tech Perspectives


Uber's Marjorie Saint-Lot on inclusion and sustainability in Africa

Uber's Country Manager for Ghana and Cote d'Ivoire, Marjorie Saint-Lot, shares how the ride-hailing company is approaching public-private partnerships, environmentally friendly initiatives and gender inclusion in Africa.


The 100 most influential African leaders in 2023

A new report from Africa Tech Festival and Connecting Africa puts a spotlight on the top 100 African leaders in the telecoms and technology sector in 2023.


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.

More Africa Tech perspectives

Guest Perspectives


Omdia View: April 2024

By Omdia Analysts

April 2024's telecoms highlights in the Middle East and Africa included a license for Starlink in Ghana, new mobile termination rates in Ethiopia, and 6G trials in Bahrain – that and more in the latest Omdia View.


Leveraging agritech to build resilience against climate change

By Francis Hook

ICT analyst Francis Hook discusses agritech in Africa and how the agricultural sector is using technology to build resilience against the negative effects of climate change and to ensure food security.

More Guest Perspectives

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign Up
Tag id test-002