Lack of inadequate telecommunication facilities in the Eastern Province of Zambia is hindering the full realization of the province's economic development potential according to the Export Board of Zambia, writes Annie Kapepula.

The province, which has tremendous natural resources that can be fully exploited despite being mountainous in some parts, is lacking one of the main ingredients for economic development: telecommunications.

The Export Board of Zambia notes that despite the province being endowed with various resources like vast fertile land, high quality agriculture produce and gemstone, the province has no communication facilities that would bring about economic development.

Some of the main factors that the board says are lacking in the Eastern Province include poor road networks and impassable feeders roads, constant power disruptions and cuts from the country‚s largest power utility, the Zambia Electricity Supply Corporation (ZESCO) as well as inadequate telecommunication facilities from various service providers such as Zambia Telecommunication Company (ZAMTEL), Zamnet Communications, Microlink Technologies, Celtel, Telecel and Coppernet Solutions among many others. The EBZ indicates that due to the prevailing situation, there has been lack of development in the province, which would "turn around" the economy of the country.

Despite being the first country outside South Africa in the Southern region to be connected to World Wide Web in November 1994, Zambia is still struggling to enact an ICT Policy. Various stakeholders in the Information and telecommunication industries who made submissions to the two ICT draft policies are still being held at bay, waiting to hear when the final document will be delivered.