Zambia is an African landlocked country has managed to avoid the war and upheaval that has marked much of post-colonial history in the region, earning itself a reputation for political stability. The country has experienced rapid economic growth over the last decade. It also has one of the world’s fastest growing populations. However, economic growth and massive Chinese investment have failed to improve the lives of most Zambians, with two-thirds still living in poverty.
The Internet penetration rate was 18.4% in 2016. High-capacity microwave radio relay connects most larger towns and cities. There are several cellular telephone services in operation and network coverage is generally improving. Romestic satellite system are being installed to improve telephone service in rural areas, and Internet service is widely available.
In recent years there has been a considerably reduction in fixed-line and mobile access pricing thanks to access to international submarine cabling. Mobile network operators in Zambia are also investing in 3G and LTE-based services, while several ISPs have also rolled out WiMAX wireless broadband networks. MTN Zambia in addition has initiated an FttP program, initially in Lusaka. All these developments are expected to increase overall broadband penetration significantly in coming years. The Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) is devoted to ensuring quality, secure, accessible and affordable ICT services and products through effective regulation.
Zambia had one of the world’s fastest growing economies for the ten years up to 2014, with real GDP growth averaging roughly 6.7% per annum, though growth slowed in 2015 and 2016 to just under 3%, due to falling copper prices, reduced power generation, and depreciation of the kwacha. Zambia’s lack of economic diversification and dependency on copper as its sole major export makes it vulnerable to fluctuations in the world commodities market and prices turned downward in 2015 due to declining demand from China; Zambia was overtaken by the Democratic Republic of Congo as Africa’s largest copper producer.
Despite recent strong economic growth and its status as a lower middle-income country, widespread and extreme rural poverty and high unemployment levels remain significant problems, made worse by a high birth rate, a relatively high HIV/AIDS burden, and by market-distorting agricultural and energy policies. Poor management of water resources has also contributed to a power generation shortage, which has hampered industrial productivity and contributed to an increase in year-on-year inflation to more than 20% in 2016. Zambia’s currency, the kwacha, also depreciated sharply against the dollar through 2015-16, leading the central bank to restrict lending. Rampant spending in recent years has increased the fiscal deficit—over 8% in 2015—and may encourage the government to seek external financing from the IMF to fund the shortfall.
Zamtel, whose official name is Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited, is a government-owned telecommunication service provider in Zambia. Zamtel Land-line Services is the sole fixed-line service provider with approximately 80,000 lines country-wide. Zamtel is also providing mobile services and Internet access. Zamtel recently launched their 4.5G LTE-2300 network.