Mobile-services dispute leads to Zamtel CEO ouster

Zambia Telecommunications Company CEO Simon Tembo has been dismissed for disputing that mobile service providers in Zambia were exploiting customers by providing poor quality services.

Zambia Telecommunications Company  CEO Simon Tembo has been dismissed for disputing that mobile service providers in Zambia were exploiting customers by providing poor quality services.

Communication Authority of Zambia (CAZ) CEO Shuller Hanbeezu said last week that companies providing poor services include Celtel and MTN (Mobile Telephone Networks), which route their international calls through Zamtel.

Tembo has disputed the claim and wondered why CAZ focused the survey on remote rural areas, leaving out towns where services providers have established facilities for some time.

Zambian Minister of Communications Transport Minister Dora Siliya has said, however, that the development of ICT (information and communication technology) in rural areas is the Zambian government's priority.

Celtel operates in 14 countries in Africa including Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Uganda, while MTN operates in 21 countries including Zambia, Ghana, Nigeria and Uganda.

Tembo said the decision by the CAZ to withdraw some spectrum from the mobile phone service provider network coverage last year might have contributed to the poor quality of service in some areas.

"I do not want to be drawn into discussing this issue further. Only the company board can do that," said Tembo via mobile phone Tuesday.

Zamtel is a government run communications utility that has exclusive rights to the Mwembeshi Earth Station, which provides an international gateway to mobile phone service providers in Zambia and collects revenue.

Celtel and MTN have been pushing the Zambian government to have their own international gateways in order to ease network congestion and make the mobile market competitive. But the Zambian government has refused to deregulate international gateways and give licenses to private mobile companies, citing security concerns.

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