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Airtel Zambia and ZICB Join Forces to Boost Internet Access for SMEs

Airtel Zambia and Zambia Industrial Commercial Bank Limited (ZICB) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

Their partnership aims to enhance the business environment for Zambia’s Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs). Under this MoU, Airtel will provide free 4G and 5G Internet devices to ZICB’s SME customers.

To receive these devices, users must register for the bank’s Internet banking platform and commit to monthly data bundles.

Also Read: OMEA and Microsoft Partner to Empower SMEs with Digital Transformation in Africa and the Middle East

Internet Penetration and Expansion Efforts

This initiative targets ZICB’s SME clients, ensuring they have reliable high-speed Internet connectivity through Airtel’s devices.

As of early 2024, Zambia’s Internet penetration rate is 31.2%, with projections indicating a rise to 43.44% by year-end.

To further improve access, the Zambian government and private sector are constructing 520 communication towers. Their goal is to achieve 96% phone and Internet coverage by late 2025 or early 2026.

In February 2024, the government announced plans to build 60 4G mobile towers to boost Internet coverage in rural areas. Additionally, they plan to establish digital centres offering free Internet services.

Following the MoU signing, ZICB’s Acting CEO, Dr. Louis Kabula, highlighted the bank’s comprehensive digital banking infrastructure.

He emphasized its role in promoting efficient capital management and client convenience. Dr. Kabula reiterated the bank’s commitment to lowering business costs in Zambia, especially for SMEs.

He further noted that SMEs handle a significant portion of low-margin commercial transactions in the country’s economy.

Airtel’s Business Director, Lindiwe Banda, expressed optimism about the partnership. She stated that it would facilitate easy access to Internet banking services for SMEs.

These services can be accessed from business premises or homes. Banda also mentioned that SMEs would receive Airtel devices at no cost.

They only need to sign up for monthly data bundles. This will enable businesses to conduct online invoicing and maintain transaction records.

Future Prospects for Airtel and Zambia

Zambia is one of Airtel Africa’s key markets, particularly for its rapidly growing Airtel Money product. Airtel Money plans to go public in 2025.

Airtel intends to leverage its first-mover advantages and key infrastructure in Zambia and other strong markets.