MINISTER of Technology and Science Felix Mutati has launched the new ZICTA licensing framework which he says is necessary in the transformation journey of making Zambia a digital economy.

Speaking during the launch, Wednesday, Mutati said the new licensing framework would significantly add to the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and boost local innovator participation.

“For the Ministry of Science and Technology, today is a momentous day. Today is the day we sign the SI that will usher in the new licensing framework. This new licensing framework takes over from the framework that was in place since 2017. Some of the reasons we are putting in this new licensing framework is that in ushering in the new licensing framework, we are creating the momentum that is necessary in the transformation journey to make Zambia a digital economy. We have been consulting on this new licensing framework, consulting a number of key stakeholders since 2019,” he said.

“We also think that the new licensing framework is going to add to the GDP of this country significantly. Currently, the contribution of GDP from the ICT sector is around three percent. Now with the new regime, we think this will be able to go above the regional average of five percent. Most importantly, this new licensing framework is going to generate significant investment, in particular in broadband fiber which will make it easy for the country Zambia to be the regional hub within the context of Southern Africa. Therefore this will create a new stream of revenue earning by carrying services to countries that surround Zambia.”

Mutati said the new framework would address some challenges faced with the 2017 framework following advancement in technology.

“This new framework has been put in place to try and cure some of the challenges that we faced with the 2017 framework. We had unclear procedures in licensing certain licenses in the framework, and we also had some gaps in services. For me what is more crucial is that with the advancement of technology, it rendered the 2017 framework totally inadequate as a tool to generate the control that we wanted in the sector. What are the benefits we anticipate once I sign the SI? Number one is the issue of convenience. This framework will have an impact on the quality of service, the quality of experience and also issues around affordability which are important,” he said.

And Mutati said the licensing framework would also increase opportunities for start-ups and innovators to be able to participate meaningfully in the ICT sector.

“This framework also creates opportunities for shared telecom infrastructure. It also introduces a third element that with a reduction of licensing fees, it will allow for the local Zambians to participate in the ICT sector. The next pillar is what you may refer to as digital infrastructure and digital platforms. We think that this new framework will also generate new investment in technology, in particular 5g. We also have opportunities for the rural areas in increasing universal access. We have also designed it to ensure it will not be a burden but an instrument that will generate investment,” he said.

“Our third pillar is digital entrepreneurship and innovation. This licensing framework is going to increase opportunities particularly for start ups and innovators to be able to participate meaningfully in the ICT sector. So in short the sector is opened up for ordinary Zambians to be able to participate at a meaningful level. You can actually have a license for a province, for a district or indeed any designated space. So therefore the investment that was a barrier for the ordinary Zambian has now been broken down to allow you the Zambians to participate. The fact that we have reduced the fees, it makes it easier for ordinary Zambians to be players in the ICT sector. So today I sign the SI and this will usher in a new dawn in our digital transformation journey, creating jobs, rebooting the economy and above all creating citizens happiness.”

Mutati said about 5000 direct jobs would be created over the next three years.

“With the new licensing framework, we think we will be able to create capacity for jobs in this country of at least 5000 direct jobs over the next three years. In the past, you could not get a license for a district, and therefore you are able to create a license for a district at a low level of investment. That will enable you to create jobs in the district. With a reduction in the fees, we expect a number of players entering the ICT sector. So the more they enter into the sector the easier it will be to create new jobs,” said Mutati.

“We have spoken about broadband, the new licensing framework is going to attract investment to take into neighboring countries. Just the mere process of digging fiber into Angola is job creation, the serving of that fiber over time is job creation. So there are a number of jobs that we have estimated over three years [which] will be 5000. When you compare historically, it will be an increase of over 40 percent.”