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Chapter 2.3 : Public Access, Media and Cultural Heritage

For the majority of Zambians, access to information is mainly by way of physical means such as libraries, postal communications and print media.  However, radio and TV are some of the most popular means of access to information; though tv despite being the most attractive media has very limited coverage across the country.  Equally important, access
to information via networked systems such as the Internet and mobile phones is very limited mainly due to non-availability of telecommunications infrastructure and high access costs for many consumers.

Postal and Courier Services

Postal  and  Courier  Services  are  mainly  provided  by  ZAMPOST.  The  Corporation covers  the country through a network of about 116 Post Offices, 64 Sub-Post Offices and 55 Postal Agencies. A large percentage of the 72 districts have an operational post office. In addition, there are private courier services, which are concentrated along the Livingstone-Copperbelt corridor for delivery of parcels. However, some private courier operators now service provincial centres as well.


There  are  cafés  and  business  bureaus  offering  telephone,  Email/Internet  access  in major  urban centres  and  a  few  in  rural  towns.  Currently,  there  are  about  300 licensed  telecenters  across  the country by 2004 against 108 in the year 2000. However, a larger percentage is along the line of rail. This  is  mainly  due  to  the relatively  good telecommunication  infrastructure,  low  capital  and operation costs coupled with the high number of potential customers.

Library Services

The  Ministry  of  Education  operates  the  largest  number  of  public  libraries  through the  Zambia Library Service. Currently, there are 6 major public libraries across the country covering at least six of  the  nine  provincial  centres.  The  Copperbelt  University, Mindolo  Ecumenical  Foundation  and UNZA have adequate libraries facilities in comparison to other libraries across the country. Various other  private  libraries  also exist  in  schools  and  colleges  offering opportunities  for  access  to information. Local authorities mainly run community libraries as part of the public service though most of them need urgent attention. In  general,  public  libraries  are  in  a  dilapidated  state,  normally  equipped  with outdated  reading materials and are urban centred in most cases. Most of the materials are imported with little local content and knowledge resources. The process of equipping public libraries managed by the Zambia Library Service with ICT tools including Internet connectivity has started. However, the installed capacity needs to be increased in terms of hardware and Internet bandwidth. The main library at UNZA has reached advanced levels in integrating ICTs as part of the services to the university community and the general public. On  the  other  hand,  the  national  Archives  is  one  source  of  political,  social  and economic information, particularly historical perspectives about Zambia which forms good background on the geo-political development agenda of the country. Access to such information by the public is very limited both in physical and electronic forms.

Electronic Media

Broadcasting in Zambia dates back to 1941 when the colonial government opened a radio station in Lusaka. Until after the re-introduction of multi-party politics in 1991, radio and TV broadcasting was a preserve of the state, either as a Government department or as a statutory body.   However, the enactment of the following laws to facilitate the liberalisation of the media industry has opened new avenues for radio and TV services across the country:

  1. Radio Communications Act of 1994
  2. Independent Broadcasting Authority Act of 2002
  3. ZNBC (Amendment) Act of 2002 

The  above  legislation  together  with  the  Zambia  National  Broadcasting  (ZNBC) Act  of  1987  and  the ZNBC  Licensing   Regulations   (1993)   provide   for   the legal   and   regulatory   framework   for   the broadcasting sub-sector in Zambia. The Independent Broadcasting Act also establishes the Independent Broadcasting Authority as the regulator for the broadcasting sub-sector. However, the regulatory agency is not yet functional.

Since 1994, Zambia has made significant advances in liberalising the airwaves thus allowing private sector participation in the sub-sector.  This has resulted in the opening of a number of commercial and  community  radio  stations.  There  is  at  least  one  (1) community  radio  station  and  ZNBC  FM Transmission in each province.  Three  TV broadcasting  stations  are  operational,  namely; ZNBC, Trinity Broadcasting and Muvi TV. On the other hand MultiChoice Zambia, part of the pan- African pay TV Company is providing subscription based Satellite TV services across the country while CASAT also
provides pay cable TV services in Lusaka.  On  the  other  front,  the  convergence of technologies  and  markets  has created  opportunities  such as Internet  radio broadcasting,  which  is  becoming  popular  among  local  commercial  radio  stations thus reaching the entire world with very minimum costs. While this situation expands opportunities in the ICT sector, the current regulatory framework in telecommunications and broadcasting sub-sectors are slowly becoming inadequate in addressing new challenges arising from convergence of services.

Some of the challenges include:

  1. Non-availability of ICT tools and services especially in rural and underserved urban areas;
  2. High cost of access to ICT tools and services whenever available;
  3. Inadequate local content to support cultural promotion and traditional Knowledge development;
  4. Limited coverage of electronic media across the country;
  5. The  role of  ZNBC as the national broadcaster with respect to information delivery  to  the General  public  amidst  liberalised  airwaves  needs  clarity  to ensure,  responsibilities and equity;
  6. The regulation of Internet Telephony (VoIP) and Broadcasting amidst the proliferation  of Multimedia technologies and Internet.

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