China to fund expansion of Zambia mobile networks

Alan Burkitt-Gray
Published on:

‘Concessional loan’ from China of $282m will fund 808 Huawei base stations to take voice coverage to 100%

China has signed a contract for Huawei to build 808 mobile phone towers in Zambia, to take voice coverage of the country to almost 100% and data coverage to 40%.

The Chinese government will fund the project with a loan of $282 million, said the country’s ambassador to Zambia, Yang Youming.

“After the completion of the project, the voice service penetration will increase from 70% to nearly 100%, the data service penetration will increase from 5% to 40%, which will greatly improve communication conditions for the Zambian people,” said Yang at a signing ceremony in Lusaka, the capital.

“I believe that everyone’s mobile phone here has at one time or another experienced the loss of signals, thus the inconvenience to communicate. After the completion of this project, that will no longer be a problem.”

The towers will carry 2G, 3G and 4G signals, said Yang. “The project will effectively improve the investment environment in Zambia, promote employment, and provide a solid foundation for the socio-economic development of Zambia.”

The project is funded through a “concessional loan” to Zambia, he said, but gave no details about the repayment terms.

Airtel, MTN and state-owned Zamtel are expected to use the new base stations, along with a new company, Vodafone Zambia, which operates data services only.

“It is my hope that Huawei will be able to deliver to the government and people of Zambia a quality final product, and write a new chapter for China-Zambia cooperation which both of our sides will benefit,” said the ambassador.