GOVERNMENT should allow a fourth mobile service provider in the country to inject stiff competition and fair pricing to subscribers, Zambia National Farmers Union (ZNFU) told the Parliamentary Committee on Communication and Transport yesterday.
And the ZNFU also said Government should increase access to Information Communication Technology (ICT) hardware and software by zero rating Value Added Tax.
Presenting its memorandum before the committee on communications, transport, works and supply yesterday, ZNFU suggested that Government should upgrade the existing communication tower infrastructure to ensure good cellphone and internet coverage.
“Currently, ICTs such as mobile phones attract VAT and therefore costly for most small scale farmers to access,” ZNFU president Evelyn Nguleka said.
She called for Government’s intensified efforts to sensitize rural community on the benefit of adopting ICTs in improving their livelihoods.
Dr Nguleka said the Ministry of Education should include ICT teaching in schools and address the shortage of ICT skills.
She said Government should speed up development of ICT infrastructure across the country to ensure equitable access to ICT technologies among citizens.
“Government should provide an enabling environment to encourage local software developers to develop small-scale packages that were suitable for local market conditions,’’ she said. And Consumer Unit Trust (CUTS) said competition still remained a fundamental tool to the growth of the ICT sector in Zambia.
CUTS submitted that issues of pricing and meeting consumer demands would be addressed through facilitating more players to come into the market.
“High cost of access to ICT tools and services is something that also needs to be addressed especially in rural and underserved areas,” read part of CUTS submission.
Meanwhile, CEC Liquid Telecom submitted to the same committee that there was need to ensure timely implementation of the Vision for Progress and Prosperity (VPP).
CEC Liquid Telecom recommended the development of a mechanism for monitoring progress on the 13 pillars of policy implementation as outlined in the priority areas policy statement.