Friday, October 24, 2014

National Broadband Implementation in Zambia

According to Yamfwa Mukanga, Zambia’s Transport, Works, Supply and Communications Minister, the country’s government plans to implement a strategy to reduce broadband costs. Through investment in broadband infrastructure, it intends to increase access to information and communication technologies (ICT) in Zambia and promote across-the-board deployment of ICT. The national broadband strategy that is being developed is meant to offer affordable broadband services to all Zambians, which will help speed up social and economic development in the country. Mukanga said that it is evident that the country’s leaders are considering a new broadband implementation strategy because the government has reclassified ICT in the revised Sixth National Development Plan—sixth in a series of development plans that Zambia has instituted since 1964—as an economic sector rather than a support sector.

While many African nations have made great strides in terms of growth and advancement in the telecom industry, several countries still have a long way to go with broadband adoption rates. Poor internet access or extremely costly access has detrimental effects on individuals and businesses in terms of driving economic growth and improving the quality of life in these countries. According to a study by broadband statistics and analysis firm Point Topic, while the global average cost of broadband is US $75.00 per month, in Africa it can be up to US $200.00 per month. On that note, Amon Jere, Chief Sales and Distribution Officer of the MTN Group, said, “Mobile broadband services in Zambia are generally perceived to be a preserve for just a small elite, and this perception is wrong….Data, is a mass market product and not being treated as such by operators has resulted in Zambia’s generally low internet penetration.”

Zambia, a landlocked country, has recently gained access to international submarine fiber optic cables. This development has already produced some meaningful retail price reductions for broadband services. Zambia’s government has also said that satellite technology will be required to connect some of the remote areas in the country that will not be served by fiber optic technology. As these infrastructure changes begin to take shape, the country’s operators would be wise to continue to expand their broadband networks to help increase broadband penetration rates. This market sector has a good deal of potential for revenue generation.

The above item appeared in a recent issue of The Tarifica Alert, a weekly resource that analyzes noteworthy developments in the telecoms industry from around the world. To access all of the latest articles and issues:

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