Monday, August 10, 2009

Don't Cut Jobs, Zambia Urges Zain

PRESIDENT Rupiah Banda has urged Zain Zambia to avoid the temptation to lay off employees but focus on measures that will ensure vibrant operations in Zambia.

Mr Banda said yesterday, when he launched the new Zain Zambia head office, that the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector had remained resilient to the financial shocks and had maintained the service and employment levels.

"However, I am concerned that while we are still on this recovery path, there is a tendency to make cost-cutting measures that may affect employees in the sector," he said.

The president, in a speech read on his behalf by Communications and Transport Minister Geoffrey Lungwangwa, urged Zain Zambia shareholders to focus on Zambia as it was among the top investment destinations in Africa.

He said the Government had launched the ICT policy to ensure Zambia was an information and knowledge-based society by 2030. He, however, said that could not be accomplished without the private sector.

He said the Government was determined to ensure that the ICT sector performed in line with global trends because its contribution to the national treasury had continued to grow over the years. "It is for this reason that my Government has developed a futuristic policy for the sector. The implementation of this policy has started with the development of a reform process through an appropriate legal and regulatory framework," he said.

He said currently, Parliament was discussing the ICT Bill, Electronic Communications and Transactions and the Postal Services bills all aimed at moving the sector in line with regional, continental and global best practices.

This was also designed to streamline the licensing regime such that operators would be left to determine the best technologies to deploy and at the same time minimise the number of licences in line with the Government's policy of reducing the cost of doing business.

The president commended Zain Zambia's vision to consider Zambians as partners in running the company by listing on the Lusaka Stock Exchange (LUSE) and extending coverage to rural areas where it was almost impossible to communicate in the past.

Zain Zambia managing director, David Holliday said despite the challenges posed by the global economic crisis, foreign exchange fluctuations and a competitive market, the company had managed to achieve impressive revenues and profitability.

Mr Holliday said Zain Zambia employed more that 20,000 people in the sales and distribution functions across the country and with the launch of new products and services, the number would increase.

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