Zamtel to champion digital transformation-CEO

State owned enterprise Zamtel says it is positioning itself to become an Integrated Digital Service Provider that will integrate all sectors of the Zambian economy.

Zamtel Chief Executive Officer Sydney Mupeta said Zamtel will provide digital services by way of forging strong partnerships with industry players.

Mr. Mupeta said Zamtel will start off as a “Driver of Digital Transformation” by way of moving to open architecture through the deployment of cloud-based virtualized and Software Defined Networks with open Application programming interfaces (APIs).

He said Zamtel’s deliberate choice of open architecture is meant to support easy integration of partners which will inspire growth through digital transformation across all sectors of the economy.

Mr. Mupeta was speaking on Wednesday evening during a welcome cocktail for delegates attending the Second Regional African International Telecommunication Society Conference at the Intercontinental Hotel.

The two day conference is being held under the theme “Communications and Applications for All-The ICT thrust Transforming Business, Competition, Policy, and Regulation.”

"The Journey towards digital transformation is just starting and this Conference could not have picked a better theme. For us at Zamtel, it’s a question of once beaten, twice shy. This time, we are taking digital transformation head on! We are embracing the future and bringing scale to all our partners across different sectors of the economy,” Mr. Mupeta said.

He observed that the global network has introduced opportunities and challenges for telecom operators such as the coming of Over-The-Top (OTT) players that offer diverse applications and content, such as WhatsApp and Skype, directly to consumers.

Mr. Mupeta said this is leading to a decline in revenues from traditional telecom services such as voice and messaging.

“The OTT Disruption, is pretty similar to the Mobility Disruption of the early 1990s that we experienced as Zamtel. OTTs do not come with legacy issues, no in-country taxes and regulatory fees, and no investment in networks. Granted, OTTs are eating into telecom revenues and becoming stronger, however it is our considered view as Zamtel that even though OTT services, are substitutes to traditional services, they still need telecom operator-networks to access the customer,” he stated.

He added, “Monetizing OTTs will require service awareness which most Telco’s can do to some extent and in general the need to undergo “Digital Transformation”. This transformation has already started and the case-in-point is vertical integration into the financial sector through Mobile Money Service.”

Mr. Mupeta said Mobile Money is one of the first successful vertical integrations and it is expected to champion a cashless society through end-to-end electronic payment methods.

“Zamtel is championing cashless transactions and we expect to create winning partnerships with other industry players. Existing Players may see this as a threat, but this should be viewed as an opportunity to maximize value for all players in the financial ecosystem. Current trends are showing that Telco’s will continue to contribute “Scale” through Mobility and associated Financial Inclusion which will maximize value for every player in the expanded ecosystem,” he said.

And International Telecommunication Society Chairperson Dr Stephen Schmidt said the conference is important as it accords an opportunity for telecom players, governments and the academia to share knowledge on the recent advancements taking place in the global telecoms market.

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