Mobile phone firm in Zambia to go public

The action by MTN Zambia comes in the wake of the Communication Authority’s directive in July this year for mobile telephone providers to offload a total of 41 per cent of their shares to the public intended to protect national interests in the industry, as well as promoting investment.

MTN Zambia Chief Marketing and Sales Executive, Fred Mokoena, said negotiations to offload some of the shares to the public have reached an advanced stage.

He said the firm would abide by the demands of the subscribers and relevant authorities in the inclusion of subscribers and the government in the operations of the company in Zambia.

“We are on track in that area because there is communication,” he told The Southern Times in Lusaka.

“We are just finalising a few things here and there before we state the current position.”

If the negotiations succeed, MTN would become the first cellular service provider in Zambia to be listed on the bourse.

Mokoena said MTN recently submitted a comprehensive proposal to the Communications Authority of Zambia (CAZ) and that the company was only awaiting a response. “We can only hope that the government’s decision will help reduce the cost of mobile telecommunications especially in terms of international calls,” he said.

MTN Zambia, who have been undertaking substantial rehabilitation of equipment since it took over from Telecel over four years ago with a buy-out of US$60 million, have spent US $42 million out of the US $70 million pledged to facilitate expansion of the network to all the 72 districts of the country.

Mokoena disclosed that the new equipment is expected before the end of the year, and that the network roll out could then start in earnest.

Mokoena said the company’s roll out would be boosted by the fact that the other two players in the filed, Celtel Zambia and Cell Z, have done a lot in laying the necessary foundations.

“We all need to work together and we are committed to this.

“But if for any reason the other players feel we cannot work together, we have the critical mass as MTN Group to go it alone.”

Celtel Zambia also recently indicated it sought to offer 10 per cent of its shares to the public and that negotiations with the government had reached an advanced stage.

According to Celtel’s Managing Director, David Venn, the company had an obligation to work with the public and relevant authorities and ensure subscribers benefited from its presence.

Cell Z, a quasi government mobile communication firm, is working out modalities to also offer 10 per cent of the shares to the public and be listed on the local bourse.

October 2006
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