LUSAKA, ZAMBIA – Three Zambian ministries have started consultations to come up with a strategic business plan to help Zambia Telecommunications (Zamtel), which is in a financial crisis that leaves it facing operational difficulties.

The ministries of Communications and Transport, Finance and National Planning, and Commerce, Trade and Industry are working on the business plan. Zamtel, which is state-run, is retrenching more than 800 workers due to financial problems.

Zamtel needs more than an infusion of money and different management — it needs a new business model, Minister of Communications and Transport Dora Siliya said last week. The company has the potential to offer more services than it currently does, Siliya said.

Zamtel is the only company in Zambia that provides fixed, mobile and Internet services to its customers. The company also has the infrastructure to sub-lease to other service providers in the telecom industry, Siliya said.

The company owns the Mwembeshi satellite station that provides the country’s international gateway to other service providers, including Celtel and the mobile telecommunication network providing mobile services.

One of the business plans being considered includes separating CellZ, Zamtel’s sister company providing mobile service, from Zamtel. Currently, CellZ operates under Zamtel management.

Zamtel acting CEO Mukela Muyunda said the two companies can operate independently to save Zamtel from closing due to financial problems.