Zambia: ZAMTEL gets $180M injection

By Nawa Mutumweno – Zambia telecommunications firm, ZAMTEL, will in the next two years invest $180 million (about ZMK 852 billion) to expand and enhance its operations.

According to company managing director Hans Paulsen, ZAMTEL plans to invest in infrastructure development to increase its subscriber base to 2 million over the next two years in addition to improving its service provision.

“We are in the process of bringing in investment programmes to grow infrastructure. Initially, we had targeted to spend $120 million but we realized this was not enough. We are now going to spend $180 million over the next two years.

Growth opportunities in the communications sector were vast and ZAMTEL would seize every opportunity to gain a better market share in the industry.

“Currently, penetration is about 35% of the Zambian population, meaning that there is still enough room for growth.

ZAMTEL was on track following the restructuring programme initiated on privatization, making Zambia catch up with advances in telecommunications technology. The firm, one of the three telecommunication firms in the country, would greatly benefit from the LAP Green network through knowledge sharing and technological advancements. LAP Green of Libya owns 75% shares in ZAMTEL.

Meanwhile LAP Green is to connect over 6 000 households to broadband internet in Lusaka under the Next Generation Network (NGN) after the rollout plan for the town is completed this month.

The firm has so far invested $23 million to roll out the NGN exchanges in the country and is expected to complete Phase One of the roll out plan in Lusaka in January. Exchanges have since been switched from analogue to digital.

In a bid to upgrade and modernize fixed line infrastructure across the country, ZAMTEL has embarked on Phase One of decommissioning of all old analogue land line exchanges and replace them with the NGN exchanges (digital).

This change from analogue to digital exchanges will enable customers to get the benefits of additional features on their land lines such as fast and affordable broadband internet, audio and video conferencing as well as missed call notification, among other services.

According to ZAMTEL’s corporate communications senior manager Kennedy Mambwe, the NGN roll out plan is advancing well and almost complete in Lusaka.

“We want to upgrade all infrastructure and make sure that every household can have broadband internet speed. We want to push internet penetration rates since they are significantly   low,” he pointed out.

Currently, Woodlands, Ridgeway, Chinika and Lusaka Main can access the broadband technology. It is envisaged that the whole network in the country will be finalized by the close of February 2011.

The firm has since installed 96 sites in all the districts. 450 sites will be installed in the next 30 months.

On the Third Generation Network (3G), the firm is currently deploying the 450 sites which will see the rural areas get connected to the second generation (2G) while the urban areas will be connected to 3G.

Part of the $180 million investment will be used to roll out the 3G network. Phase One migration is a build-up to a successful cutover pilot migration that was performed at the Woodlands Exchange in Lusaka recently.

This phase started on December 17, 2010, lasting until January 20, 2011 and will see exchanges at Ridgeway, Chinika, Emmasdale and Lusaka Main overhauled and replaced with next generation technology.

Phase Two of the project to install new and advanced NGN countrywide continues within the first quarter of 2011.