Three Zambian mobile operators, MTN Zambia, Airtel Networks Zambia and Zamtel, have reportedly created an industry lobby group called The Global System for Mobile Association of Zambia (GSMAZ).
its objective is to influence the effective development and sustained growth of a strong and vibrant mobile telecommunications sector in Zambia. Digital inclusion, he points out, will promote infrastructure and economic growth, boost employment and productivity across the country, and improve access to essential services like healthcare and education.
Bart Hofker, Managing Director of MTN Zambia and current Chairman of GSMAZ, said at the launch that the formation of GSMAZ will foster effective cooperation and partnership between operators and various stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Airtel Zambia Chief Executive Apoorva Mehrotra pointed out that a siloed and “competitive” approach between operators is giving way to a more collaborative approach to advancing industry concerns and to elevate the profile of mobile telecommunications in Zambia.
GSMAZ says it will work with regulator ZICTA, local government and other organizations to promote policies that encourage the growth of the digital economy.
But how much longer will Zamtel be healthy enough to be part of this group? Recent reports indicate that the country’s president, Hakainde Hichilema, has appointed a task force to determine the future of the financially troubled public operator.
This working group will, according to ITWeb Africa, investigate the viability of the business and propose appropriate actions to save it. While there are few other details, this is encouraging news for an operator that would need a recapitalization of some US$265 million to survive and has no funds to upgrade or even maintain. its current infrastructure.
For the moment therefore, it seems that a sale is unlikely. Given its debts, however, a convincing bailout for Zamtel still seems a long way off.