Technology and Science Minister Felix Mutati has said the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority ZICTA will soon make an announcement on the progress towards operationalization of a 4th mobile operator in the country.
In February last year, ZICTA awarded a 4th mobile licence to Beeline Telecoms Limited with a requirement to commence operations within six months failure to which, the licence would be revoked but the firm later requested an extension in order to procure and install equipment, which the regulator agreed to.
Beeline Telecoms Limited becomes the second company to be awarded a license for a 4th mobile operator after UZI Zambia failed to commence operations by March 3, 2019, which was the final deadline issued by the authority notwithstanding two earlier deadline extensions, the first being November 30, 2019, and the second May 30, 2020.
But Mr Mutati has clarified that ZICTA is not struggling with a 4th mobile operator as he was confident that soon, the authority would make an announcement in terms of progress towards having the first call from the operator awarded a license.
Mr Mutati also clarified that ZICTA’s role is regulation, policy, and ensuring that any operator complies with the regulations and looks at the commitments given by the 4th mobile operator as well as listens to them if they have challenges to meet particular deadlines.
“The role that ZICTA has played is to say, you have applied for a fourth license and these are the boxes that you need to tick. The regulation does provide that ZICTA can look at the commitments that have been given by the 4th mobile operator and listen to them if they have challenges to try and meet particular deadlines and whether those challenges they are facing are reasonable in the opinion of ZICTA and whether they do not violate regulations” Mr Mutati said.
The minister said ZICTA as a regulator can then take appropriate decisions but as it stands, the authority is not struggling as they are just enforcing regulations.
“I’m sure pretty soon they are going to make an announcement in terms of the journey to the first phone call from the 4th mobile operator,” he said.