31 January 2013

Zambia: Speed Up Rural Tower Installations, Zicta Urged

THE Parliamentary Committee on Transport, Works, Supply and Communications has urged the Zambia Information Communication and Technology Authority (ZICTA) to speed up installation of telecommunication towers in rural areas to improve communication.

ZICTA is this year set to install 144 telecommunication towers in 118 chiefdoms which have poor network signals.

This will cost about KR240 million (K240 billion) under the Universal Access and Service project.

Committee chairperson Kapembwa Simbao said the authority should consider extending installation of telecommunication towers to needy and outlying areas.

He was speaking in Lusaka on Tuesday when ZICTA director general Margaret Mudenda and her senior staff appeared before the committee at Parliament buildings.

"I think ZICTA should prioritise setting up of more towers in rural constituencies where people have challenges to access network. People need more telecommunication towers," he said.

Mr Simbao, who is MMD Senga Hill Member of Parliament (MP), said ZICTA's move to increase Information and Communication Technology (ICT) devices like computers in schools was essential.

He said, however, that the authority should target schools in remote areas to enable children appreciate the use of ICTs.

Kamfinsa MP Moses Chishimba said people in constituencies like his faced difficulties in the use of mobile phones.

"We need telecommunication towers as a matter of urgency. Imagine, people have to climb trees or anthills to access network in some parts of my constituency," he said.

Moomba MP Vitalis Mooya said ZICTA should play an active role in ensuring that people were effectively sensitised on the registration of SIM cards.

ZICTA projects manager Bwalya Mwango told the committee that the authority would this year set up 144 telecommunication towers under universal access and service project in 118 chiefdoms.

On the sim card registration exercise, ZICTA head of information and consumer protection, Katwamba Mwansa said in Africa, the exercise started in Mauritius and Senegal in 2006.

As of October last year, 48 of 54 countries in Africa including Zambia had started the exercise.

Mr Mwansa said the authority was impressed with the increased turnout of Zambians registering their sim cards and other devices with sim card requirements.

Ms Mudenda, in her presentation, said the authority had not set the deadline for sim card registration because it wanted to first compile statistics before it could do that.

Meanwhile, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is optimistic that Zambia would develop economically through increased trade in exports of agricultural products.

USAID agricultural development officer Brian Martalus said this when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Economic Affairs, Energy and Labour.

Mr Martalus, who was flanked by USAID economic growth team leader Anna Toness and economic growth deputy team leader Ballard Zulu, said Zambia should exploit its agricultural export potential by embracing global trade.

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