Zambia at risk of being cut off from the rest of the world, claims ZACA


The Zambia Consumer Association (ZACA) has urged the Government and the Communications Authority of Zambia (CAZ) to inform the country about the status of the Mwembeshi satellite, following persistent failures of international calls.

Telecommunication subscribers have in recent days complained about difficulties in making or receiving international calls, which had been attributed to congestion on the single international gateway.

In a statement last week, ZACA executive secretary Muyunda Illilonga said the current situation where Zamtel was failing to carry an increased volume of traffic could be rooted in the state of the earth station.

Illilonga said the Government must quickly address the situation, before the infrastructure is crippled and completely fails to transmit international calls from and to Zambia. "ZACA is deeply concerned that this vital sector of the economy appears to be at risk as consumers' confidence declines due to the never ending problems related to quality of service," he said.

From the admission by Zamtel that the difficulties currently being experienced in communicating to and from Zambia were as a result of increased international telecommunication traffic, it was clear that Zambia should not depend on one external channel.

It seems that the international call routing at Mwembweshi could not handle the current three million telecommunications subscriber base connected to Zamtel landline service as well as mobile phone lines of CellZ, MTN Zambia and Zain Zambia.

Illilonga said the Government needed to allow the other telecommunications operators in Zambia to carry their own traffic and establish terrestrial links with neighbouring countries, in order to ease pressure on the Mwembeshi earth station.

"This means that the other mobile telecommunication providers must be allowed to operate independent channels at a reasonable fee. If Government does this, we will avoid a situation such as the one being experienced now when Zambia is cut off from the rest of the world," he said.

The Times of Zambia