LUSAKA, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Zambia plans to invite bidders for a fourth mobile phone voice service provider following approval of a new licensing regime, the Minister of Transport and Communication said on Tuesday.
Zambia approved a law in June allowing more mobile phone voice service providers to boost competition.
Transport and Communications Minister Brian Mushimba said in a statement the communications regulator would select a fourth service provider in the next six to 12 months.
“The market analysis that we have done supports the fact that we can have a fourth licensee and possibly a fifth and still the market will be profitable,” Mushimba said.
Zambia passed a law in 2009 restricting the number of mobile phone voice operators to just three to help existing companies expand.
Zambia has over 12 million mobile phone service subscribers representing a penetration rate of almost 75 percent, the latest government statistics show.
South Africa’s MTN, India’s Bharti Airtel and state-owned Zamtel are currently the only mobile phone operators offering voice services in Zambia.
A fourth mobile telecoms 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 Jason Neely)