The Zambian government is selling a 75% stake in state-owned telecommunications firm Zamtel, in a move to privatise the struggling service provider, officials said on Tuesday.
The sale of the country’s largest telecoms company, with estimated revenue of US$100m, is expected to draw investors from the continent and beyond.
According to a Zambia Development Agency (ZDA) advertisement, a list of pre-qualified bidders would be announced on 21 October. The government would retain the 25% of the remaining shares.
A senior government official said the privatisation was the only way of keeping the unprofitable firm afloat. “You can see that the company has been struggling for a long time and the only way that we can ensure that it will not fold, leaving people out of employment is by selling at least 75% [of the] shares,” the official said.
The company provides Internet and data services for 161 000 mobile phone subscribers and 95 000 mobile phone customers. It is the sole licensed provider of wholesale international VSat connections and voice and data services.
Zamtel would not be the first state-owned firm to be partly privatised. In 2007, the government sold 49% of Zambia National Commercial Bank to Rabobank of the Netherlands, amid public protests. — Sapa-AFP