ZAMBIAN REGULATOR PROMISES GUIDELINES TO SOLVE INTER-CONNECT PROBLEMS

Telecoms

  Zambian Communications Authority (CA) Chief Executive Shuller Habeenzu has said the inter-connectivity problems in the mobile telecommunications sector would be resolved when guidelines and regulations were enforced. Habeenzu said the CA was working on draft guidelines and regulations, which were now ready for public comment.

  Habeenzu said the CA open forum that was launched at the weekend would serve as an interactive public communication channel and would focus on the regulation of Information and Communication as a strategy for facilitating accelerated growth in the sector. He noted that the interconnectivity problems between Zamtel and Celtel, apparently due to commercial disputes, have been to the detriment of customers. Many callers have for a long time been facing difficulties in making phone calls from a Zamtel landline to a Celtel number.

  "We are coming up with inter-connectivity guidelines and regulations in the interests of customers," he said. "We are even addressing the issues of tariff regulation and linkages to dollarisation through transparent procedures." Habeenzu said when regulations were in place, it would lead to a lot of sanity in the communications industry. He said the CA has been unable to resolve interconnectivity regulations, as the organisation currently has no powers to intervene.

  Habeenzu said effective regulations in the ICT sector would make the cost of services affordable to more Zambians. On the emergence of a fourth mobile telecommunications provider, Habeenzu said consultations were still in progress. Currently, the total number of mobile phone subscribers in the country is only slightly over 350,000 whereas the total number of landlines is less than 100,000. According to the CA estimates, there are only about 18,000 active Internet users. If the number of people using Internet cafes is considered, the CA estimates indicate that the figure comes up to approximately 50,000 people.

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