According to the most recent statistics by the Zambia Information and Communications Technology Authority (ZICTA), the number of internet users grew from 5.2 million to 7.1 million in just one year.
ZICTA report shows the current number of mobile internet users stands at 7,148,325, representing a 79.07% penetration rate. Though the growth in mobile data subscription has not been constant. In May 2017, the numbers of subscribers dropped from 6.1 million to 5.2 million. The drop was attributed to the increase in the cost of mobile data.
Zambia has also witnessed an increase in the number of mobile phone users from 12 million to 13 million within the same period. The Minister of Transport and Communication, Brian Mushimba, attributes this growth to the reduced cost of mobile data.
All three mobile service carriers in the Southern African country, Zamtel, MTN Zambia, and Airtel Zambia have cut their data bundles prices by as much as 70% within the same period. Competition among the carriers has increased, leading to a price war that is benefiting the end-users. Although the carriers say, they can offer cheaper data bundles because they have internet penetration rate has increased, and they now benefit from economies of scale.
Currently, data bundles of 5GB cost K100. At that price, users could previously only get 2GB bundles.
“This is what we have been pushing for as government, and we know it is a result of competition among operators and internet service providers that has caused this reduction. With the coming of the fourth mobile phone operator, we are sure there will be further reductions,” said Mushimba.
Digital Migration in Zambia marred by allegations of corruption at the Office of the President
The President of Zambia, Edgar Lungu is facing accusations of having inflated the cost of digital migration for personal gains. The country is set to undergo second and third phase digital migration, and to finance it, Zambia has borrowed $273 million.
The contract for the digital migration across six provinces in the country was single sourced to Chinese StarTimes. Former Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services, Chishimba Kambwili alleges that the president bid for the loan from China was partly for personal gain.
“President Lungu gave instruction to discontinue the tendering process so that the digital migration exercise is single-sourced to StarTimes. I called companies that had submitted bids, and they told me that the $273 million government borrowed from China for digital migration project was too much,” said Kambwili.
President Lungu vehemently denies this claims, arguing they are being spread by individuals who are not happy to see the government of the day dutifully carry out development projects.