Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) Report

The Zambia Digital Ecosystem Country Assessment (DECA) report outlines the key aspects of the country’s digital ecosystem and provides recommendations for the international development community to create a more inclusive, safe, and enabling environment to achieve development outcomes.  

Zambia faces many challenges to achieving comprehensive social and economic digital transformation that benefits all Zambians. Geographic and gender digital divides are deep and risk growing further. Reaching those without connectivity will require a focused commitment from both the public and private sectors, as will improving access to high-speed, high-quality broadband.Several laws at the heart of Zambia’s Internet governance were developed and rushed to adoption ahead of the 2021 elections without adequate stakeholder engagement, and numerous provisions create new powers for the government to control expression and assembly in online spaces. At the same time, those provisions intended to secure digital infrastructure and create needed data and cybersecurity have not yet been implemented.

The Zambia DECA was developed between February and June 2022, reflecting desk research, consultations with USAID/Zambia, and two weeks of in-country key informant interviews and four weeks of virtual interviews. The in-country research included more than 73 interviews with stakeholders from civil society, academia, the private and public sectors, international development organizations, and USAID/Zambia technical offices.

Pillar 1: Digital Infrastructure and Adoption

  • Zambia’s nearly 90 percent coverage of 2G Internet access provides a solid foundation for focusing short to medium term efforts on increasing adoption.
  • Government policies and market limitations constrain potential for more investment and expansion of rapid mobile broadband (4G).
  • Despite broad network coverage, smart device ownership, given the high cost of devices, is still below the regional average.
  • Low digital literacy and skills among youth and adult.s are holding back more rapid development of Zambia’s digital ecosystem.
  • Appetite for online content and services is growing while information literacy needs improvement.
  • Digital divides are deep, overlapping, and multifactorial.

Pillar 2: Digital Society, Rights, and Governance

  • Government powers to police the online information space have grown and are cause for concern.
  • Stakeholder inclusion in the development and implementation of the digital transformation agenda needs strengthening.
  • The governance of the digital transformation agenda has improved with the creation of the Ministry of Technology and Science, but mandate overlaps remain, suggesting that further improvements in governance are necessary to avoid duplication and a lack of synergy.
  • There have been notable efforts to increase the interoperability between government systems; however, digitalization initiatives remain siloed, focused on non tax revenue services and lag at the local level.
  • A lack of foundational and digital ID systems represents one of the most significant barriers for Zambia’s digital transformation.

Pillar 3: Digital Economy

  • Existing legal and institutional frameworks provide a solid basis for a digital economy, although some key aspects, such as e-commerce and digital trade, are still not regulated and procedural inefficiencies persist.
  • Mobile money is driving adoption of Digital Financial Services. However, adoption across MSME supply chains is hampered by high digital channel maintenance fees (such as USSD code annual fees with ZICTA and monthly USSD hosting fees with the Mobile Network Operators) and transaction commissions.
  • E-Commerce is nascent with a number of active startups, but underdeveloped logistics and addressing systems, a lack of trust, and low digital financial literacy levels remain barriers.
  • Tech entrepreneurship is emerging, led by FinTech, but could benefit from incentives to address startup and compliance costs, access to finance, business and technical skills to scale products.
  • The national ICT sector is nascent, and while demand for specialists is growing, availability and awareness of opportunities in ICT education and professions is relatively

mAccess Indicators & Rankings

The information below is part of the mAccess Diagnostic Tool and is intended to help assess foundational components of Zambia’s digital ecosystem using indicators on internet availability, affordability, access, and use. Click here to explore the full tool.

Country Snapshot – Zambia

  • 2G Coverage:


  • 3G Coverage:


  • Cost per SMS in USD for 10,000 bulk SMS:


  • EIU Rank:


  • ITU IDI Rank:


  • Number of Internet Exchange Points (IXPs):


  • Living 2G Coverage ( in million ):


  • Living 3G Coverage ( in million ):


  • No of MBBC:


  • Not using Mobile Internet 2G Coverage:


  • Number of active mobile money agents:


  • Number of active mobile money users:


  • Smartphones 3G Coverage:


  • WEF Rank:


Access – Zambia

  • Land-lines per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile broadband connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile internet users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Active SIM cards per 100 inhabitants:


Affordability – Zambia

  • Mobile prepaid 1GB basket:


  • Moblie Prepaid 1GB basket – largest operator:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket – largest operator:


  • Effective price:


  • GB per GDPC:


  • Mobile prepaid voice basket:


Competition – Zambia

  • Market concentration:


  • Interconnection: Mobile Termination Rates:


  • Highest MNO EBITDA Margin in country:


  • Mobile-specific taxes / TCMO:


  • Number of Mobile Operators:


  • Market share of largest mobile operators:


Infrastructure – Zambia

  • International bandwidth per user:


  • Connections per Base stations:


  • Population covered by 3G signal:


  • Population covered by 4G signal:


  • Country level investment per subscriber:


Usage – Zambia

  • Average revenue per user (Blended ARPU):


  • Facebook users per 100 inhabitants:


  • Mobile Data traffic per active SIM:


  • M2M connections per 100 inhabitants:


  • Minutes of Use per active SIM:


Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map

The information below is part of the Digital Ecosystem Evidence Map (DEEM) and displays up-to-date resources on digital development interventions and the digital ecosystem for Zambia. Click here to explore the full tool.

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