Vodafone Group is lining up a bid for a mobile operating licence in Zambia with the goal of expanding its offering in the market.
Currently, Vodafone provides data services in Zambia but has no voice business. Its operations in the country are managed by its local partner Afrimax. The market is lead by MTN, which has a share of 48%, with India’s Airtel and state-owned Zamtel taking second and third place.
ZICTA, the country’s regulator, has been granted permission to issue a fourth mobile licence by the Zambian government, with transport and communications minister Brian Mushimba going on record to say that a new player could be operating within a year.
While Vodafone has not publicly declared its aim of obtaining the licence to become the market’s fourth player, it has said that it will issue “a comprehensive statement” at “an appropriate and opportune time”, according to local spokesman Mukuka Mulenga.
Making a fourth licence available provides international operators with a chance to enter a new African market without acquiring an existing player. Vodafone is present in several African markets via its Vodacom subsidiary, and also as a standalone operation in Ghana.
At the end of Q2 2017, Zambia had around 12.4 million mobile connections according to ZITCA. The country’s penetration rate is around 75.8%.