The latest report from the Zambia Information Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) shows that Zambia has an estimated 6.1 million mobile internet users. The subscriber base of customers is currently distributed as follows: mobile telecommunication provider MTN maintaining its major share at 45.5%, Airtel with 40.1% and Zamtel with 14.4 %.
Reports says that mobile phone penetration rate has reached 74.3% of the population, with 11.6 million subscribers out of 15 million Zambians.
Internet Usage Zambia
3,167,934 Internet Users in Zambia (2016*)
- Share of Zambia Population: 19 % (penetration)
- Total Population : 16,717,332
- Share of World Internet Users: 0.1 %
- Internet Users in the World: 3,424,971,237
The impact of the pricing effect is largely on the low-income people and the access to ICTs for rural communities are a big problem.
Why is the internet so expensive in Zambia?
The total number of Internet users have risen recently in Zambia and so the consumers expect that the internet facilities will become cheaper, reliable and affordable due to the emergence of numerous service providers in the ICT industry. The advancement of Information and Communication technology (ICT) and new methods of delivering networking tools have also raised the hope that the price will go down. Unfortunately, the rates are still expensive for the average internet users.
To some extent, consumers believe that they are being utilized by the service providers due to the increased rates and unreliable connectivity. The service providers try to convince the consumers to sell their services. Before we criticize our local ISPs we should think what are the reasons for our internet access to be so expensive. Let’s take a look at some of the common silent reasons.
Geographical Location (Landlocked country)
Since Zambia is a landlocked country which means one which is surrounded on all sides by other countries and hence there is no direct access to the sea. When a good or service is to reach Zambia, it has to be passed through the other countries as well. An importer has to meet all the regulatory requirements which is bound to be an indirect cost to the importer and is eventually passed to the consumer also.
Personnel (Technical, Support, Finance, Marketing)
Today’s technology requires expert personnel and they do not come in cheap. It is right that we do have local expert qualified personnel. But we know that the many of the investors in the ICT companies are foreigners and they are interested in promoting business from their home country. So specialized ICT professionals are normally outsourced.
Availability of equipment (Routers, Switches, Servers, Radios, Fiber optic, VSATs)
Zambia depends on foreign equipment as ICT equipment are not manufactured or assembled here. The equipment is imported and they are very expensive in addition to high procurement, installation and maintenance overheads. We know that using fiber optics for Internet speed and bandwidth are the best option and the service providers have agreed that the prices will be reduced after the installation in Zambia. But the reality is that fiber is very expensive as it need experts for installing and maintaining. Also note that Zambia connects to fiber through various countries which are connected to underwater cables.
Taxes, regulatory and licensing fees
The various overhead costs along with the Internet access are also more for a Zambian startup in the ICT industry. The operators are required to pay different taxes.
Doing a business in Zambia is very expensive due to other factors such as fuel charges, cost and scarcity of electricity etc.
Unstable exchange rates
The internet is imported from the countries who own satellites and fiber and so the charges are quoted in foreign currencies like US dollar. When the value of Kwacha reduces against the foreign currencies, the cost of Internet also rises. The providers quote their services in dollar. In total we can say that the cost of accessing the internet in Zambia is influenced by several factors, geographical location, operation expenses, equipment cost, value of dollar, weak taxation policies etc. Considering all these factors, the service providers charge an amount so that they get a profit for their investment.
10 simple reasons why 6 million Zambians are using Mobile Internet
There are many reasons as to why mobile providers are the major contributors of internet access in Zambia such as corporate marketing and advertising strategies, investment in latest technology, motivated workforce and many other factors. The above are the nine basic reasons why the ordinary citizens appreciate mobile internet.
With an estimated 6.1 million Subscribers being part of the global village connected to friends and families, who use the internet to conduct eCommerce, access the news, conduct research, education and health information.
Equipment : Technology has grown exponentially that the consumers can now access internet at their fingertips using a smart phone, tablet etc. and do not require complicated infrastructure.
Attractive Promotion Packages : There are several promotional packages offered by the mobile operators which tempt the users to go for more.
Mobility : Internet and mobile phones enables the users to access internet from wherever they like and are not restricted to any building.
Good Customer Care : Excellent customer care services who respond in no time.
Availability : The consumers can use the resources at any time and at any place. It is just required that the device must be able to access the mobile internet provider.
Affordability : Most of the mobile providers have introduced data bundles at very cheap rates with options like pay as you go, hourly, daily, weekly and monthly packages. These are affordable to the users and they can select their desired packages.
High speed internet : Mobile phone providers provide fast internet services like 2G, 3G, G4/LTE
Flexibility : Users can browse from anywhere at any time using any mobile device as they are not strict to any particular device.
Extra services / Mobile Application Services : Additional services like internet mobile baking, mobile transactions etc. are also provided.
Social Media Packages : Most of ISP’s provide Social Data Bundles specially designed for Facebook, WhatsApp and instant messaging at cheap rates.
Which ISP offers affordable data?
When the internet needs have reached starvation level, data has become a necessity. The consumers want affordable data but the data bundles and packages of different telecoms vary in rates.