MTN Zambia Limited says it grew its subscriber base to about 3.5 million by the end of the third quarter of 2012.
The wireless phone company also spent up to US$200 million on rolling out the network countrywide over the last two years, according to the new chief marketing officer Philip Besiimire.
Mr Besiimire was speaking during a media briefing held at Lusaka’s Radisson Blu Hotel yesterday as he added that the growing subscriber base may soon ensure that MTN gets the lion’s share on the mobile phone industry in the country as income levels among working class Zambians continue to grow. Among the new products boosting numbers are products such as mobile money, according to Mr Besiimire.
Mobile money is a cash transfer facility that does not involve going to either a bank or a cash point.
“We have seen a number of customers growing significantly,” Mr Besiimire said, “our customers are fascinated with mobile money hence the participation increasing. Other exciting promotions such as the 90 days of yellow Christmas and Google SMS are some of the interesting products.”
Commenting on the investment, Mr Besiimire said while the company invested over US$200 million in network roll out, US$65 million was spent on improving the services.
He said apart from this, K700 million was spent in corporate and social responsibility programmes as the firm believes in investing in communities as a way of paying back to them.
Speaking at the same function, Deputy Minister of Finance Miles Sampa said Government is losing between US$1.5 billion to US$2 billion (K10 trillion) through tax avoidance every year, predominantly by the mining firms.
Mr Sampa, however, said Government is in the process of enacting a law to punish any false reporting by companies which is likely to be a criminal offence.
He said government has observed that there is so much tax avoidance due to existing laws which mining firms are taking advantage of to by-pass tax obligations.
Mr Sampa expressed satisfaction at the services MTN and other wireless phone companies are proving in Zambia but urged them to continue improving the services in order to help boost communication in Zambia. Apart from providing mobile phone communication services, MTN is also in the process of holding a multi-million Kwacha media excellence – the second of its kind – for Zambian journalists who report on various issues that relate to development and health.
The first one was hosted at Hotel Intercontinental in Lusaka last year and attracted more than 1,000 entries in various categories of both print and electronic media.
The company is expected to raise both the bar and prize this year as it seeks higher calibre entries in order to encourage issue-based journalism in Zambia.
The Post newspaper’s Chiwoyu Sinyangwe won the overall prize last year as did Zambia Daily Mail staffer Darlington Mwendabai in the features category.