The Zambia Competition Commission (ZCC) has what it claims is collusion between existing mobile operators to block the entrance of a fourth mobile service provider.

ZCC Executive Director George Lipimile said in a statement in Lusaka last week that the Commission had received intelligence reports showing that two mobile service providers in Zambia had plans to engage into a possible anti-competitive collusion against prospective new entrants. Lipimile said the reports if found to be true would not only limit growth and competitiveness of the sector but also violate the consumers' rights to choice, price and quality.

He said that the two mobile service providers were alleged to have jointly or individually approached a potential international entrant to discuss various entry strategies into the Zambian market. Lipimile said the intelligence reports suggested that the entry strategies were aimed at ensuring that the market in Zambia only retained three players as was prevailing currently.

The two mobile service providers are also alleged to have proposed a joint venture with the prospective new entrant while one of the two is further alleged to have proposed that the new entrants consider a take over of its Zambia operations.

"What this implies is that Zambia is likely to be denied of "green field" Investment with its benefits of the injection of new capital, creation of employment and contribution to effective competition in the relevant market,' Lipimile said.

He said the allegation if found to be true would further prevent, restrict and distort competition to an appreciable extent in the mobile cellular phone market in Zambia resulting in breaching of Consumer and Fair Trading Act. The allegations would also contravene the relevant sections of the Telecommunication Act, which aims at promoting and maintaining competition in the sector. Lipimile said the commission was now liaising with the Communications Authority (CA) to investigate the allegations and take appropriate action to arrest the situation.

Times of Zambia