Good signal!

IT IS surely a great sign that a licence for a mobile telephone operator has been awarded to Zambian investors.
Beeline, a local mobile company, is the fourth mobile operator.
It is about time that Zambia had confidence in its own professionals to manage all social and economic sectors of the country.
Beeline, awarded the licence by the regulator, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA), has on its shoulders an onerous task to prove that it can live up to expectations of all those that have confidence in it.
For long, the telephone mobile operations space has been dominated by foreign entities – MTN, a South African company, with Bharti Airtel Africa BV being the parent company for Airtel.
Zamtel, the third mobile operator, was until Beeline came through the only locally-owned mobile firm.
While multinationals remain valuable to the economy in terms of investment depth, job creation and innovation, the profit remittances usually have a negative impact on foreign exchange reserves.
The country needs a strong home-grown private sector if the citizens are to benefit from the country’s natural resources.
There are many benefits that come with the country having a robust home-grown private sector.
Apart from the usual job creation, there is going to be real economic growth when the country has many local firms investing in the economy because there will be little or no capital flight.
Proceeds from sales are banked locally.
There is also more liquidity locally, hence credit becomes affordable because individuals and small to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) can borrow to start businesses or recapitalise their businesses.
With available credit, SMEs will grow and even begin to add value to products like maize, groundnuts, cotton and minerals, among others.
The coming on board of Beeline should motivate more citizens to invest in the economy. The country needs more mega firms to grow faster and become industrialised.
That is what has propelled economies of countries like South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria in sub-Saharan Africa. Rwanda is also headed in that direction.
The mobile company industry, just like the others, is capital-intensive.
The shareholders of Beeline would do well to have a buy-in from Zambians by floating some of their shares. Of course it may take time to have such a buy-in as any investor would want some measure of assurance that the decision would be rewarding.
But with good management, that confidence in the company could be attained sooner rather than later.
Given that some sectors require capital intensity, local businesses should form partnerships to pool resources and run viable businesses.
Zambians do not usually grow because entrepreneurs want to go it alone even when they do not have enough capital.
Strong firms around the world are built by business partnerships.
One of the extended benefits following the arrival of Beeline on the telecoms industry arena is that it will enhance competition, which is good for consumers of services offered.
Some customers feel shortchanged at times, so another player in the market could help improve service delivery.
Rates could be reduced and all this is for the good of the consumer.
Therefore, the arrival of Beeline can only be for the good of everyone, especially the consumers of this service and the country’s coffers.