More than five companies are considering bidding for Zambia’s fourth mobile network operator licence, ITWeb Africa reports, with the country’s communication, transport, works and supply minister, Chris Yaluma, cited as saying: ‘I can disclose that my ministry has received bids from over five telecom operators who have expressed interest in setting up a business in Zambia. Among them is Vodacom of South Africa.’ The identities of the other would-be bidders were not disclosed.
Mr Yaluma meanwhile has confirmed that no decision has been made regarding the award of the concession, and has noted that other parties can still register their interest. However, before it can issue a new concession the Zambian government still needs to carry out a number of legal actions with a view to revoking existing regulations that block the introduction of a fourth mobile operator. Nonetheless, the minister has said that, once such matters have been resolved, the country could see the award of the licence and launch of a new cellco before the end of 2013.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database, Vodacom has coveted Zambia’s elusive fourth mobile licence since its first flirtation with the country’s wireless market in 2002, when it was issued a mobile concession by then-regulator the Communications Authority of Zambia (CAZ). The licence was later withdrawn though, amid claims there was not sufficient spectrum in the country. In November 2009, following the successful resolution of the spectrum shortage, the still-vacant spectrum was offered to Vodacom once again. This time the company confirmed that it would not proceed with negotiations, preferring to focus on its existing operations, rather than making new investments. Since then Vodacom has made its presence felt in Zambia by acquiring a controlling stake in WiMAX provider AfriConnect, opening the door for future developments in the wireless sector.