CUTS National Coordinator Simon Ngona stresses a point  during a parliamentary hearing on the ZICTA towers
CUTS National Coordinator Simon Ngona stresses a point during a parliamentary hearing on the ZICTA towers

The Parliamentary Committee on Telecommunications has expressed shock that ZICTA allowed Chinese telecoms giant Huawei to install communication towers that were below the specifications contained in the bid document.

Committee Chairman Vitalis Mooya said there is something fishy in the manner ZICTA allowed Huawei to abrogate the terms of reference and called for further investigations into the project.
Committee Member Kenneth Konga described the move by ZICTA to engage Huawei in the second phase of the tower project as absurd especially that the Chinese contractor has underperformed in the first phase of the project.

In April last year, ZICTA launched a project to install 169 mobile telephone base stations in rural areas in all the ten provinces at a total cost of US$ 13.5 million.A typical communication tower cost between US$ 200 and $250 but ZICTA allowed Huawei to install each tower at approximately US$ 80,000.

The reduction in the cost of installation also meant that Huawei was also allowed not to abide by one of the key technical specification which required that the tower provides rural macro coverage of at least 5Km in radius.

A study conducted by the Consumer Unity and Trust Society in December however revealed that the coverage of most of the installed towers was 1.65Km as opposed to the 5Km prescribed in the terms of reference.The study entailed that 3.35Km was not being serviced raising the question of how these installations are being monitored by ZICTA.

Consumer Unity and Trust Society Lusaka Centre Coordinator Simon Ng’ona submitted to the Committee that it is evident that most of the towers fall short of the 5Km radio requirement by ZICTA.
‘Despite the fact that the challenges necessitating this development were not shared, one particular failure is that the specifications were not met and this raises eyebrows and concerns,’ Mr Ng’ona said.

The Parliamentarians were informed that the Anti Corruption Commission has taken up the matter to study whether there are some elements of corruption.Committee Member Ephraim Belemu said ZICTA is not being prudent and transparent in the utilisation of public funds for the project.

‘For me who comes from a farming community, if you install a tower with coverage of 1.5 Km in a particular Chiefdom, you are basically saying coverage will only be at the Chief’s palace if the Chief has a large farm, meaning the community members who are supposed to be communicating with the Chief will be cut off, this project doesn’t make sense,’ Mr Belemu said.

Members of the Parliamentary Commitee on Transport during  deliberations
Members of the Parliamentary Commitee on Transport during deliberations
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36 COMMENTS

    • How long does it take to fly from USA to Zambia? The zwd reported that Inonge is on her way back from USA to take the acting presidency but hasn’t reached yet.

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    • Chinese are your Masters.
      Used to be whites in the early 50’s 60’s

      Then the Indians, you worshipped them in Kamwala, they built their temples and took over the shops

      Now its the chinese, its their time, you will call them your masters.

      Dull zambians, I would never marry one never in a million years

      Next will be Nigerians.

      Thanks
      BB2014

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    • This is what they do at RDA. The Chinese quote cheap and win contracts and then do a road below the stipulated requirements. RDA officials share the loot with the Chinese. Compare the roads done by the Chinese with the Japanese, how long the Japanese road survive and how frequently the Chinese roads give up?
      RDA needs technocrats from European countries or from Japan to ensure what the Contractor bid for is provided. Zambians are too corrupt, cheap and anti-nationals. They can sell their mother for a few dollars.

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    • As long as Zambians receive bribes this country will always have low standards. Investors will take advantage of this. We are to blame for this. ZICTA should be investigated so that the culprits are found and fired. ZICTA should be accountable for this and it is high time action was taken against officials to put others off. Unfortunately this attitude of nichekeleko,” starts at the top. The more senior the official the bigger the cut.

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    • IT IS A SHAME THAT ZAMBIANS STILL FROM THEMSELVES. MAIN REASON FOR THIS IS BECAUSE JUSTICE IN ZAMBIA EVEN WITH OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE TAKES FOREVER UNTIL THE ALLEGED THIEF LEGITIMISES THEMSELVES AS INNOCENT AND START MINGLING WITH THE GOOD PEOPLE. CASES IN POINT ARE CHILUBA, RB AND MANY MORE. SO, EVEN ZICTA (INCLUDING RDA) CHAPS KNOW TOO WELL THAT EVEN IF THEY ARE STEALING THEY WILL NEVER BE JAILED. SO, WITH SO MUCH OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE WHY IS RB STEALING WALKING STREETS? WHY WAS CHILUBA NOT CONVICTED? IN ZAMBIA THE JUSTICE SYSTEM IS JUST FOR PETTY THIEVES OF SHOPRITE. WHY IS IT THAT SOMEONE WHO BURRIED BILLIONS OF KWACHA IS STILL NOT IN JAIL. THE LAW IN ZAMBIA IS NOT FEARED BECAUSE IT IS AN ASS OF ITSELF AND HAS TEETH FOR POOR PEOPLE ONLY.

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  1. All these bunches of criminals should not be allowed to rule Zambia. It all started with ” Michael COBRA Sata” now is “CHAGWA Agwa Lungu”
    Zambians wake up and kick out the PF government otherwise you will remain in poverty for ever AMEN!!!

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  2. Yes,… ask the hard questions parliamentarians; you represent us and our interests in that House and let us know ZICTA’s response. In the event that there was corruption, both parties must be punished equally as opposed to the contractor getting away with a small fine as happened in the past on some corruption matter involving a Chinese firm.

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  3. USA to RSA flight using SAA is 19hrs plus flying hours. Depending on connecting flight to Zambia its 2hrs Jorburg – Lusaka. Approximately full day to arrive home.

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    • Where do you think all the quality products come from? like the iphones etc. You get what you pay for, if you want a transmitter for $200K from China you will get it, but somebody decided to get $80K transmitters but record that the $200K one were bought. So don’t blame the Chinese for the corrupt ways of our GRZ. Find the person that decided to change the spec of the transmitters but still paid the $200K, which means someone is enjoying $120K somewhere.

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    • very true. But to get non-chinese products in Zambia is a rarity now. I have burnt extension cords three times in last 14 months. All chinese cords. One that I had bought from UK 20 years back is still working and protected my sensitive equipment.

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    • Chinese goods are produce according to the area. In the UK one finds goods made in China but they are if a very high standard. The UK Bureau of Standards officials do their job. They even travel to factories in China to check on quality. If you buy Chinese items from the UK, the quality is superior. Then you have the African market and anything goes. The cheapest materials are used hence the constant replacement of items. Sadly the Zambian market is full of goods of an inferior quality.

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  4. Where do I have to look for information regarding the construction of communication towers in Zambia?
    I am particularly interested in knowing the environmental requirements like for example the minimum required distance to a settlement area.
    I would be very thankful if somebody could point me in the right direction.
    Thanks

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  5. Am not sure a tower with a generator, guard house, access road, fencing, and all the civil works can cost USD250. CUTS is being uneconomical with the truth. I hope the Parliamentary Committee realised that. Maybe for a kindergaten tower. someone is being Malicious.

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  6. When will we ever learn to do things professionally?

    Get a European (preferably German) company to do the job and you will not regret it. Asians are very good at marketing themselves but not as good when it comes to performance and quality products.

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    • Not true sir, these same Europeans are going to the Asians as well. You get what you pay for in China, you have to state what you want from the beginning. Asians guys are so advanced that Europeans have to go down there to learn how to implement systems. Take Britain for example, they had to go to Singapore to learn how to implement the congestion charging system in London but its still not as good as the Singapore system. This is why Africa is lagging behind, we think only Europeans are good at everything. We can actually do it, Asian has done it and all we need is control , checks and balances. In the 1960’s Malaysia sent people to Ghana to learn how to cultivate palm trees, today it is the largest producer of palm oil & Ghana is now sending people there for palm tree management

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    • Toyota Honda Nissan and Mitsubishi are Asia and they have proved quality. So are Sony Nintendo and Panasonic. Get real and lose the colonial mentality.

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  7. ZICTA needs to explain this SAGA.. We see them in lavish cars and expenditure. How do you put up such a mess of a project. Relevant Authorities, please Act accordingly..

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  8. Phase II of the project should not be allowed. Actually, why entertain inefficiencies. This contract should be terminated.

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  9. Toothless ZICTA. Why do we even have this institution. It sets up projects and fails to monitor. This is despite the huge salaries they get. Look at the poor services the by mobile companies and we have never heard of ZICTA punishing the providers. The only thing i heard was that ZICTA had taken the services providers to court… Kanshi your law is not sufficnet to panish and bring sanity. Twachula mwe.. Parliement, just disband ZICTA and for,small unit at the ministry of communication/telecom .

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  10. Just cancel the project. period. Take the monies to improve agric productivity. If you get the right company to do the job – then you can proceed. Secondly, improve on you M&E. without this, you will continue to fail to monitor your projects.

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  11. Firstly more details from CUTS are required. If what has been presented and reported is true, then people should be answerable both ZICTA and Huawai. Did i get it right the ACC is investigating? If yes that is good by this is one compromised institition. ZPPA should not be spared from this also.

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  12. DON’T PAY FOR DSTV THIS APRIL
    Why should we pay over ZMW700 for Dstv premium this april. Let’s boycot these thieves. We are paying the most exorbitant charges in the region & our govt is happy. Let’s stand up & fight.

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    • DStV charges are a joke! The charge is high and the dollar/kwacha exchange is contributing enormously. The programmes are repeats everyday. We pay far more thanSouth African subscribers yet they are the ones who enjoy the competitions et al! Bati dyelela!

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  13. A commutation tower cannot cost $200. Let’s be realistic. Take into consideration, the crossarm metals used, the labour and transportation costs, and finally the antennas and powering units

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  14. These ZICTA *****s are thieves they must be made to account.What is wrong with our country kanshi? How are we going to develop like this.As for DSTV these guys have taken us for a ride ,they show nothing but repeats every day and wants us to pay all that money am also not paying this month to hell with them will buy a MUVI TV decoder soonest .

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  15. ZICTA DG is a toothless ‘boss’ whose only protection has been Yaluma…if you all recall when Sata came to power he appointed a new DG who before he could assume office he perished in a road traffic accident. The issue of a new ZICTA chief was then buried and that’s how the current DG operated without a contract for a while…..but stranger things happen and we are now paying the price of no follow through on appointments

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