Zambia has licensed Angolan mobile phone company, Unitel International Holdings, to set up the country’s fourth mobile phone service provider. Unitel will operate in Zambia under a new outfit registered as UZI Zambia Limited.
“ UZI Zambia Ltd has been successfully identified for the issuance of the two licenses,” Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA) said in a statement.
The joint stock mobile phone company which is partly-owned by Isabel Dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, has pledged to invest more than $350 million in setting up the service provider in Zambia through a local unit owned by the President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu.
Unitel’s investment which is to create about 500 jobs in Zambia, was approved in 2017 to boost competition between South Africa’s MTN, India’s Bharti Airtel and state-owned Zamtel who currently, are the only mobile phone operators offering voice services in Zambia.
Zambia passed a law in 2009 that restricted the number of mobile phone voice operators to just three in order to help existing companies expand. However, with the licensing of a fourth service provider, existing operators will be on their toes competing for the 12 million mobile phone service subscribers in the country.
Unitel operates a network based on GSM and UMTS standards, and provides voice communications, text (SMS) and multimedia (MMS) messages, as well as mobile internet access; covering all municipalities in Angola as at 2011.
Africa’s richest woman Isabel Dos Santos who is currently facing corruption charges has a 25 percent stake in Unitel.