Technology and Science Minister Felix Mutati has disclosed that Zamtel is in a loss-making venture as a business, with about 90 percent of its revenue being utilized for administrative expenses.
Mr Mutati said government will however, not recapitalize Zamtel because it has other priorities it intends to spend its resources such as funding the teacher and health-workers recruitment, Constituency Development Fund and youth empowerment.
Mr Mutati said estimates show that Zamtel currently needs a sum of US$265 million in order to survive as a company by way of investing in its co-networks, infrastructure and other business support services.
Mr Mutati said this is in exception of a staggering debt of around K3 billion and the over $500 million owed to Lapgreen, without taking into account other liabilities.
He said Zamtel as a company has a deficit on working capital of around K1 billion with its balance sheet unable to support programs such as maintenance of current infrastructure, expansion and modernization, a key issue requiring to be addressed urgently.
Speaking when he visited the Zamtel Head Office on Thursday, Mr Mutati said no matter how well-written a letter requesting funding may be, government is unable to finance Zamtel because there is no resource envelope at Ministry of Finance.
He said said Zamtel now needs to find an answer to its insolvency beginning with where it will find the $265 million required for survival.
Mr. Mutati said President Hakainde Hichilema was clear when he launched the public-private dialogue forum recently that there is need for government entities to be consultative with the private sector in order to find solutions to their problems, hence the need for Zamtel to take advantage of such clear government policy in order to construct sustainable solutions.
“Go there and think, dialogue and find innovative solutions particularly the $265 million needed, then give us a roadmap to implement a solution. That solution will then be referred to the steering committee chaired by the President. We need to find solutions and that should be our target” Mr Mutati said.
He said the Minister of Finance has his hands tied for him to begin financing Zamtel’s operations as he has to deliver value to the people.
“If it means we need to cut some limbs in order to save the life of Zamtel, so be it because that is where the solution for Zamtel lies. Let’s not take it as an easy conversation” the minister told Zamtel Acting Managing Director Joshua Malupenga.
Mr. Malupenga said the visit by the Minister will help the company’s aspirations to accelerate the universal access to communications and digital agenda.
Among other plans, Zamtel wants to expand its 800 Mega Hertz frequency spectrum to upgrade its 2G network to 4G for it to support e-government services.