President Edgar Lungu has disregarded ongoing corruption investigations into the awarding of the communication towers construction project to Huawei and awarded the Chinese firm phase two of the project valued at US$65 million.
The Parliamentary Committee of Communications raised alarm after it emerged that ZICTA was in the process of awarding the contract for phase two of the project to Huawei despite glaring irregularities in the implementation of phase one.
This was after the Anti-Corruption Commission launched investigation into the rural telecom towers project undertaken by China’s Huawei.
The ACC wanted to establish whether there was corruption in the manner the contract was awarded to Huawei by ZICTA.
The first phase was launched in April last year and involved the installation of 169 telecom towers in rural areas across the country at a total cost of USD 13.5 million.
But a study by the Consumer Unity Trust Society revealed that communication towers in rural areas do not meet technical or legal requirements.
The towers are said to fall short of the 5 km macro-coverage radius specified by ZICTA in the bid document, with coverage of most of the installed towers reported at 1.63 km.
The ACC launched the investigation after reports that ZICTA had gone with Huawei for the second phase of the project, despite indications that erected towers fail to meet specifications.
The Parliamentary Committee Chairman Vitalis Mooya stated that ZICTA was not being sincere, prudent and transparent in the manner it has handled the project.
In a news statement, ZICTA admitted that the authority is aware that the towers being erected do not meet the specifications, but that they have reached an agreement with Huawei to rectify the problem.
During his just concluded state visit to China, President Lungu who met Huawei Senior Vice President Mr. Dafeng Li in Shenzhen, China acknowledged that there were irregularities in the first phase of the project.
“There are some contracts you are executing for our people, which I must bring to your attention which are dissatisfactory, going by the nature of complaints Zambians have echoed through their elected representatives in Parliament. In this regard, I am talking about communication towers,” President Lungu said.
President Lungu later witnessed the signing of two memorandums of understanding (MOUs) between Zambia and Huawei.