"The Zambian government has invited the private sector, including ISPs (Internet service providers), civil societies and mobile telecommunication companies, to help the government provide ICT services in rural areas.
By Michael Malakata ,
June 06, 2008
The Zambian government has invited the private sector, including ISPs (Internet service providers), civil societies and mobile telecommunication companies, to help the government provide ICT services in rural areas.
The Zambian government has realized that people in rural areas have no access to ICT services including mobile phones and Internet services, hindering them from participation in the country's development process, said Minister of Communication and Technology Dora Siliya.
"The extension of ICT facilities including mobile and Internet services in rural areas is key in improving the livelihoods of people and breaks the barrier that hinders them from participating in the national development process," she said in an interview.
However, the Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) Communications and IT Manager Kunda Mwila said the Zambia government should first devise incentives to encourage cost-effectives ICTs in rural areas. For instance, in line with universal access to ICTs, the Zambian government through the Communications Authority of Zambia must reduce or scrap the VSAT (Very Small Aperture Technology) license fees charged to users in rural areas.
The Communications Authority of Zambia is a body appointed by the Zambia government to regulate the use of ICT in the country while ZNFU is a union that provides market information to its through the internet.
The Communications Authority of Zambia has set aside more than US$1 million under the rural ICTs development funds that will be given to any mobile and ISP willing to expand services to rural areas. The authority has, however, not given out any money, saying it is still working out a policy for how to distribute funds.
This is the first time that the Zambian government has invited ISPs to help provide ICTs in rural areas. The invitation came after mobile service provider Celtel Zambia accused the government of refusing to give the company tax incentives in order to expand service to rural areas.
Many service providers say the cost is too high for them to expand to rural areas."