Zambia seeks new mobile operator after unitel unit no-show

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Taonga Clifford Mitimingi
• Firm had until May to set up Zambia’s fourth mobile operator
• Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos has 25% stake in Unitel

Zambia is looking for a new mobile-network operator to compete with existing providers after a company part-owned by Angolan billionaire Isabel dos Santos failed to set up operations as planned, Transport and Communications Permanent Secretary Misheck Lungu said.

Zambia’s telecommunications regulator awarded UZI Zambia Ltd., the local unit of Unitel International Holdings BV, the license in March 2018, and the company was given until May to set up the country’s fourth mobile-network operator.

“We respect the rule of law and that’s why we followed the tender process to the letter,” Lungu said Thursday in comments broadcast on privately owned Lusaka-based Hot FM radio.

“Now that UZI has not come, we are going back to plan.”

The new operator will compete with providers including the local units of MTN Group Ltd. and Bharti Airtel Ltd.
Dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president, owns a 25% stake in Unitel, which pledged to invest more than $350 million through the local unit.

Her assets in Angola were frozen after authorities in the southwest African nation accused her of engaging in deals with state-owned companies that cost the state $1.14 billion. –Bloomberg

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