LUSAKA, Nov 14 (Reuters) - State-owned Zambian telecoms company Zamtel will more than double its mobile phone subscribers in the next three years after investing $300 million in new infrastructure, the company’s spokesman said on Monday.
Zambia, Africa’s No.2 copper producer, has more than 12 million mobile phone service subscribers, equivalent to about 70 percent of the population, according to latest government statistics.
Zamtel spokesman Kennedy Mambwe said the company’s subscriber numbers are expected to increase from about 2.2 million to 3 million by the end of next year, rising to 4 million by the end of 2019 and 5 million in 2020.
“This will be supported by an investment of $280 million by the government and about $20 million from the company’s internal resources,” Mambwe said.
China agreed to lend Zambia the $280 million to improve the nation’s telecommunications infrastructure and increase mobile phone usage over three years, the Chinese ambassador said in August.
The infrastructure investment will increase the number of Zamtel’s transmission sites to 1,793 over the next three years from the current 897 to improve voice and data service, Mambwe said.
South Africa’s MTN, India’s Bharti Airtel and Zamtel are the only mobile phone operators offering voice service in Zambia.
A fourth mobile telecoms company, Mobile Broadband Zambia, trading as Vodafone Zambia, was issued with a licence last year but operations are restricted to data services.
Zambia invited bidders for a fourth mobile phone voice service provider after approval of a new licensing regime and will close the tender on Nov. 24, the communications regulator’s spokeswoman Ngabo Nankonde told Reuters on Monday. (Reporting by Chris Mfula; Editing by David Goodman)