LUSAKA, June 20 (Reuters) - Zambia approved a new law allowing more mobile phone voice service providers in Africa’s second-largest copper producer to boost competition, its communications minister said on Tuesday.
Zambia passed a law in 2009 restricting to three the number of mobile phone voice operators to help grow existing companies.
Zambia has over 12 million mobile phone service subscribers representing a penetration rate of almost 75 percent, according to latest government statistics.
Communications minister Brian Mushimba said in parliament that Zambia needed to get rid of restrictive laws to attract investors and create more jobs.
“Within the next 30 days a new licensing framework will be in place and a fourth (voice) mobile phone service provider can enter the market,” Mushimba said in a statement.
South Africa’s MTN, India’s Bharti Airtel Airtel and state-owned Zamtel are currently the only mobile phone operators offering voice service in Zambia.
A fourth mobile telecomms company Mobile Broadband Zambia, trading as Vodafone Zambia, was issued with a licence last year but its operations are restricted to data service. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; editing by Susan Thomas)