Zambia is now on an extended countdown to the end of the international gateway monopoly after its President Levy Mwanamwasa issued a 90-day ultimatum to the two ministries involved to come up with cabinet memorandum to end the monopoly. The ultimatum expires at the end of November this year.

The Zambia Competition Commission commented that it should be left up to individual investors whether they invested in their own international gateway.

The move was prompted by complaints from the Zambia Association of Manufacturers which expressed its frustration that the issue of liberalising the international gateway was taking too long to resolve and that the current monopoly was keeping calling costs high. It currently costs between USD1.5-2 a minute to make a call compared to US20-40 cents a minute in the DRC. Mobile operators were also complaining that they had to give 80% of their international call revenue to Zamtel for the use of the monopoly gateway. If the monopoly is ended as looks likely, the incumbent Zamtel will lose this high-margin revenue. Plans to privatise Zamtel are currently on hold.