Its been a long road arguing for decoupling Zamtel and full IG liberalisation. To see government signal both is quite something.
The Zambian government has finally bowed to pressure to deregulate the country's international telecommunications gateway in order to promote competition and foreign investment in the sector and lower the high cost of communications.
Zambia's international telephone calls are among the highest in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) region.
The World Bank and private mobile service providers including Zain and MTN have been pushing the Zambian government to liberalize international gateways in order to reduce the high cost of communication and the cost of doing business in the telecom sector.
Minister of Communications and Transport Dora Siliya said his ministry has been carrying out comprehensive consultations and addressing all concerns from service providers before fully liberalizing the international gateway.
After the consultations, Siliya said, "We should be able to undertake the full liberalization of the international gateway. I'm therefore taking a bill to parliament that seeks to liberalize the gateway to help improve telecom service in Zambia."
International gateways for Zambia have remained closed since the liberalization policies were introduced for other areas of the telecom sector almost 20 years ago. Private operators have wanted to buy licenses to operate their own international gateway.
Last year, Siliya said the Zambian government could not liberalize the international gateway or give licenses to private operators because doing so would be compromising the country's security.
Later, the Zambian government said it had pegged the international gateway license fee at US$18 million, which service providers said was prohibitive.
The operators then petitioned the Zambian parliament to break the deadlock over the international gateway fees.
Now the deadlock has been broken and the Zambian government said it has resolved the objections for private operators to buy and operate their own gateway. The new cost of the international gateway has however, not yet been revealed.