VICE-PRESIDENT Guy Scott says there is need for special tariffs to help improve rural telecommunications.
And deputy secretary- general for the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Houlin Zhao said it is impressive that Zambia is the first country in which Government is putting telecommunication towers for its rural populace.
Dr Scott was speaking at his office yesterday when Mr Houlin paid a courtesy call on him.
“I have visited 200 or 300 villages and the rural populace is very enthusiastic about communication. They want communication and they will feel neglected and very upset when they are not using phones,” he said.
The Vice-President said people want to stay connected with others, hence the need for towers.
“People like to be connected. We need towers in the villages. They will use them if there are special rural tariffs or off-peak tariffs,” Dr Scott said.
He said Government is aware that the country has the highest mobile phone tariffs in Africa and is determined to reduce the costs.
“It is complicated, we don’t want to over-charge others so that we subsidize some. We want the industry to run competitively but at the same time fair enough to the poor,” Dr Scott said.
He said Government wants the rural populace to access banking services through mobile phone services enabled by low powered satellites.
And Mr Houlin said he would want other countries in Africa to emulate Zambia in her advancement of information and communication technologies (ICTs), especially the concept of erecting towers in rural areas.
“I thought profit in rural areas is not guaranteed because people are poor but Zambia has just demonstrated that people in villages are enthusiastic about being connected. This is a concept others need to emulate” Mr Houlin said.
He was very pleased when he saw towers in Chief Mukuni’s area in Kazungula.
Mr Houlin said ICTs can contribute largely to the country’s gross domestic products.
“Zambia is one of the few countries to jump five steps on our rankings and you are 80 percent connected to mobile phone services,” he said.
Later, Dr Scott and Mr Houlin got photographs while exchanging jokes about China and Zambia’s long time relations.
Earlier, Mr Houlin paid a courtesy call on Ministry of Transport, Works, Supply and Communications permanent secretary Charles Simpanje.
Mr Houlin was accompanied by Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority director-general Margaret Mudenda.
Zambia Daily Mail