Telecommunications Act, 1994
Commenced on 3 June 1994
[This is the version of this document at 31 December 1996.]
An Act to regulate the provision of telecommunication services to, from and within Zambia; and to provide for matters connected with or incidental to the foregoing.
Part I – Preliminary
1. Short title
This Act may be cited as the Telecommunications Act.
In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—"Authority" means the Communications Authority established by section three;"Board" means the Board of Regulators of the Authority established under this Act;"Company" means Post and Telecommunications Limited, a company registered under the Companies Act;"Controller" means the Controller of Communications appointed under section four;"Deputy Controller" means the Deputy Controller of Communications appointed under section four;"licensee" means any person to whom a licence has been issued under this Act;"message" means any communication sent, received or made by telecommunication or given to a telecommunication officer to be sent by telecommunication;"operator's licence" means a licence under section six;"supplier's licence" means a licence under section seven;"telecommunication" means the transmission of—(a)speech, music or other sounds;(b)visual images;(c)electronic or other data;(d)signals capable of being interpreted as or converted to sounds, images or data; or(e)signals for the actuation or control of machinery or apparatus;by telephone, facsimile, telex, teleprinter or any other device or means (other than radiocommunication, as defined in the Radiocommunications Act, 1994, or telegraphy) whose principle utilises electrical, magnetic, electromagnetic or electrochemical energy or any combination of them;"telecommunication apparatus" means apparatus or facilities constructed or adapted for use as part of, or for the purposes of, a telecommunication system;"telecommunication officer" means an officer appointed under section four;"telecommunication service" means a service, delivered by means of a telecommunication system owned or provided by the person providing the service, whereby customers using the service are able to transmit telecommunications or have telecommunications transmitted for them, and includes any service ancillary thereto, such as—(a)the installation, maintenance, adjustment, repair, alteration, removal, relocation or replacement of telecommunication apparatus related to the relevant telecommunication system; and(b)any directory information service;but does not include a service prescribed by the Minister by regulation as being outside the scope of this definition;"telecommunication system" means a network of telecommunication apparatus used or capable of being used to provide a telecommunication service.
Part II – The Communications Authority
3. Establishment of the Authority and the Board
(1)There is hereby established the Communications Authority, which shall be a body corporate with a common seal, capable of suing and being sued and, subject to the provisions of this Act, capable of performing all such acts as a body corporate may by law do or perform.(2)The powers and functions of the Authority shall be exercised and performed by a Board of Regulators appointed by the Minister.(3)The First Schedule applies in respect of the Authority and the Board.
4. The Controller and other staff
(1)There shall be a Controller of Communications appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the Board, who shall be a public officer and the Chief Executive Officer of the Board, and shall be responsible for the implementation of resolutions of the Board.(2)There shall be a Deputy Controller of Communications appointed by the Minister on the recommendation of the Board, who shall be a public officer whose functions shall be—
(a)to assist the Controller in the exercise and performance of his powers and functions;(b)to exercise and perform the powers and functions of the Controller whenever the office of Controller is vacant or the Controller is absent or is for any other cause unable to act.(3)The Controller shall, with the approval of the Board, appoint such other officers and staff as may be necessary for the exercise and performance of the functions of the Authority.(4)The Second Schedule applies in respect of the Controller, the Deputy Controller and other telecommunication officers.
5. Functions of the Authority
(1)The Authority shall supervise and promote the provision of telecommunication services throughout Zambia.(2)Without limiting the generality of the forgoing, the Authority shall have the following functions:
(a)to take all reasonable steps to extend the provision, throughout all urban and rural areas of Zambia, of such telecommunication services as satisfy all reasonable demands for them including, in particular, emergency services, public call box services, directory information services and maritime services;(b)to promote the interests of consumers, purchasers and other users of telecommunication services (including, in particular, those who are disabled or of pensionable age) in respect of the prices charged for, and the quality and variety of, such services and apparatus supplied for the purposes of such services;(c)to promote and maintain competition among persons engaged in commercial activities for or in connection with the provision of telecommunication services, and promote efficiency and economy on the part of persons so engaged;(d)to promote research into telecommunications and the development and use of new techniques in telecommunications;(e)to encourage major investors in and users of telecommunication services carrying on business outside Zambia to invest in and use telecommunication services, and to carry on business, in Zambia;(f)to promote the provision of international transit services (that is, services conveying sounds, visual images or signals that have been conveyed from, and are to be conveyed to, places outside Zambia) by persons providing telecommunication services in Zambia;(g)to enable persons providing telecommunication services in Zambia to compete effectively in the provision of such services outside Zambia; and(h)to enable persons producing telecommunication apparatus in Zambia to compete effectively in the supply of such apparatus both inside and outside Zambia.(3)The Authority shall have and may exercise and perform such other powers and functions as may be conferred or imposed on it by or under this or any other Act.(4)In the exercise and performance of its powers and functions, the Authority shall be subject to the control and direction of the Minister.(5)The Board may in writing delegate any of the powers and functions of the Authority to the Controller or any telecommunication officer.
Part III – Licences
6. Service licence
(1)Any person may apply to the Authority for a licence under this section.(2)A licence under this section may authorise the licensee—
(a)to establish a telecommunication system of the kind or description specified in the licence and to provide a telecommunication service by means of that system; or(b)to connect to a telecommunication system specified in the licence any telecommunication apparatus so specified, and to work that apparatus for the purposes of a telecommunication service provided by means of that system.(3)The licence may in express terms grant to the licensee for a term of years the exclusive privilege of undertaking, subject to any limitations contained in the licence, the activities permitted to be carried on under the licence, and such terms shall have effect as though the Authority, being lawfully entitled so to do, had thereby granted such an exclusive privilege by agreement under seal.(4)The licence shall be issued by the Authority on payment to the Authority by the applicant of such fees as may be prescribed by the Minister by regulation, if the Board is satisfied that the applicant meets the financial criteria and any other criteria so prescribed.
7. Supplier's licence
(1)Any person may apply to the Authority for a licence under this section.(2)A licence under this section authorises the licensee to supply telecommunication apparatus in accordance with the provisions of this Act and the conditions of the licence.(3)The licence shall be issued by the Authority on payment to the Authority by the applicant of such fees as may be prescribed by the Minister by regulation.
8. Conditions of licences
(1)A licence is subject to such conditions as the Board thinks fit to specify in the licence when it is granted and to any variation thereof or addition thereto in accordance with subsection (3).(2)Without limiting the generality of subsection (1), the conditions of a licence may include conditions—
(a)requiring the payment to the Authority of a fee on grant of the licence and of annual or other periodic licence fees;(b)making provision with respect to the fees and charges imposed for services provided under the licence;(c)requiring the publication by the licensee of notices specifying the method of calculating or otherwise determining the charges and other terms and conditions applying to the service to be provided under the licence;(d)requiring the licensee or any other person concerned in providing the service authorised by the licence to furnish to the Authority, in such manner and at such times as the Board may reasonably require, such documents, accounts, returns, estimates and other information as the Board may require for the purposes of exercising or performing the powers and functions of the Authority under this Act;(e)requiring the licensee not to show undue preference to, or exercise undue discrimination against, particular persons or persons of any class or description (including persons in rural areas) as regards any aspect of the service to be provided under the licence;(f)requiring the licensee, as regards any service provided under the licence, to provide, at no additional charge, such additional or special facilities for customers who are blind or otherwise disabled as are reasonably appropriate to meet their needs;(g)requiring the licensee to refer specified matters to the Authority for determination;(h)requiring the licensee to comply with directions given by the Authority from time to time in realation to specified matters;(i)providing for arbitration of disputes arising in connection with the terms and conditions of, or otherwise concerning, the licence; and(j)requiring and regulating the payment of fines and penalties by the licensee for breaches of any or any specified terms and conditions of the licence.(3)Where a licensee has on repeated occasions contravened the conditions of the licence, or has been the subject of such complaints by users of the service provided by the licensee as, in the opinion of the Board, warrant action under this section, the Authority, by notice in writing to the licensee, may vary the conditions of the licence or attach new conditions to the licence.(4)Notwithstanding any other provision of this section, it shall be deemed to be a condition of every licence that the licensee shall abide by the provisions of this Act and any statutory instrument made under this Act.
9. Duration of licences
A licence remains in force, subject to this Act, for the period specified in the licence and may, subject to this Act, be renewed on its expiry on payment to the Authority of such fees as the Minister may be regulation prescribe.
10. Licences not transferable
A licence shall not be capable of being bought, sold, leased, mortgaged or charged or in any manner assigned, demised or encumbered.
11. Unauthorised activities
(1)A person who, not being the holder of an operator's licence authorising him to do so—
(a)establishes or provides or offers to provide a telecommunication service; or(b)connects any telecommunication apparatus to a telecommunication system or works any such apparatus for the purposes of a telecommunication system;
shall be guilty of an offence.(2)A person who, not being the holder of a supplier's licence, supplies or offers to supply any telecommunication apparatus, shall be guilty of an offence.(3)Any person guilty of an offence under this section shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to both.(4)Nothing in this section applies to—
(a)a telecommunication service whose only electromagnetic medium is light and the communications conveyed by which are capable of perception with the naked eye; or(b)a telecommunication service—
(i)provided, otherwise than for fee or reward from users of the service; and(ii)used only for domestic or work purposes within a dwelling or workplace;
by means of a telecommunication system that is not connected to any other telecommunication system.(5)A prosecution for an offence under this section shall not be instituted or continued except with the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
12. Revocation of licence or refusal of renewal
(1)For the purposes of this section, a licensee is in default if the licensee—
(a)has on repeated occasions contravened the conditions of the licence;(b)has at any time contravened a condition of the licence that is expressed in the licence to be a condition whose contravention may result in revocation of the licence; or(c)has been the subject of such complaints by the public as, in the opinion of the Board, to warrant action under this section.(2)Where a licensee is in default, the Authority may—
(a)by notice in writing to the licensee, revoke the licence; or(b)refuse to renew the licence on its expiry.(3)The Authority shall refuse to renew a licence if the Minister, being of the opinion that the service provided under the licence is no longer necessary in the public interest, so directs.(4)A licence shall not be revoked, nor shall its renewal be refused, without giving the licensee a reasonable opportunity to be heard.
(1)Any person aggrieved by the revocation of his licence, or by the Authority's refusal to renew his licence, may appeal to the High Court within the time and in the manner prescribed by the regulations.(2)Due lodgment of an appeal stays any revocation against which the appeal is brought, pending the outcome of the appeal, and in the case of a refusal of renewal, the licence if expired shall be deemed to have been renewed on the same terms and conditions pending that outcome.
Part IV – Telecommunications and telecommunication services
14. Unauthorised erection, maintenance or use of telecommunication system
(1)Any person who—
(a)causes or permits the unlawful erection, maintenance, use or reconnection of any telecommunication system; or(b)fails to comply with any notice from the Authority to dismantle or remove any such system and associated apparatus;
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both.(2)The court before whom any person is convicted of an offence under this section may order that the whole or part of the apparatus used for the system be forfeited to the Republic, whereupon it may be destroyed or otherwise disposed of in accordance with any directions of the court.
15. Wilful damage to or interference with telecommunications
(1)Any person who without lawful authority—
(a)destroys, damages or removes any telecommunication apparatus;(b)disturbs, obstructs or impedes in any way the free and proper use or working of any such apparatus or of any telecommunication system;(c)wilfully intercepts or taps into any telecommunication not intended to be heard or received by him;(d)affixes or attaches any line, cable, wire, conductor or other thing to any such apparatus or system; or(e)wilfully interferes with or hinders the construction, alteration, restoration, maintenance or examination of any such system;
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding six years, or to both:Provided that a person shall not be guilty of an offence by virtue of a contravention of paragraph (c) to the extent that the person's activities are authorised by or under any Act.(2)Any person who witnesses any other person contravening or attempting to contravene this section may, without warrant, arrest that person.(3)A person who arrests another person under subsection (2) shall forthwith notify that other person of the cause of the arrest.(4)Any person arrested under subsection (2) shall as soon as possible be brought to a police station and shall there be detained until further dealt with according to law:Provided that a person so arrested shall not be detained for a period longer than twenty-four hours unless a warrant for his further detention is obtained.(5)Nothing is subsection (4) limits or affects the operation of any law providing for the release on bail of a person under detention.
16. Unlawful transmission of messages
Any person who, knowing or having reason to believe that a telecommunication service is being provided in contravention of this Act—
(a)transmits or receives any message by means of that service;(b)delivers any message for transmission by that service; or(c)performs any service incidental thereto;
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both.
17. Unauthorised disclosure of messages
(1)Any person operating or employed in connection with a telecommunication service who—
(a)unlawfully discloses the contents or existence of any telecommunication message; or(b)makes use for his own purposes of any knowledge he may acquire, in the course of his duties, of the contents of a telecommunication message;
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both.(2)For the purposes of subsection (1), disclosure is lawful only if it is compellable under any law or given for purposes of the administration of justice.
Part V – Miscellaneous
18. Powers of inspection
(1)A telecommunications officer authorised in writing by the Authority, or a police officer, may require a person who he has reasonable cause to suspect is a person required under this Act to be the holder of a licence to produce his licence.(2)If authorised by warrant issued under the hand of a magistrate, a telecommunication officer or a police officer may at all reasonable times enter premises—
(a)on which any authorised operator or authorised supplier carries on business; or(b)which are owned or occupied by a person who he has reasonable cause to suspect is using the premises for the carrying on of a business or activity for which a licence is required under this Act;
and shall have power to make such examination, inspection and inquiry and do such things as may appear to him necessary for ascertaining whether or not the provisions of this Act or the regulations under this Act are being complied with:Provided that nothing in this subsection shall require a warrant to be obtained for entry to premises or any part of premises which, in the ordinary course of business, are open to the public.(3)All books, records and documents required to be kept by a licensee shall be open to inspection at all reasonable times by a telecommunication officer or by a police officer.(4)A telecommunication officer of police officer may seize—
(a)any telecommunication apparatus which he has reasonable cause to suspect is being used by or is in the possession or under the control of a person in contravention of this Act; and(b)any book, record or document which he has reasonable cause to suspect will afford evidence of the commission of an offence under this Act.(5)A telecommunication officer may order a person to cease using, pending inquiry by the Authority, any telecommunication apparatus which, in his opinion, is being operated otherwise than in accordance with this Act, the regulations or the terms and conditions of a licence.(6)Any person who obstructs or hinders a telecommunication officer or police officer in the exercise of his powers under this section, or who neglects or fails to comply with an order under subsection (5), shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both.
19. Users Advisory Committee
(1)The Minister shall establish a Telecommunications Users Advisory Committee, whose principal function shall be to consider complaints and comments from users of telecommunication services.(2)The Committee shall be responsible to the Minister and shall have such other functions and responsibilities as the Minister may by statutory instrument prescribe.
20. Information to be supplied by licensees and applicants
(1)A licensee and any person applying for a licence shall furnish the Authority with such documents, accounts, estimates or other information as the Board may reasonably require for the purposes of exercising the powers and functions of the Authority under this Act or as may be prescribed by regulation.(2)A licensee or applicant who neglects or fails to comply with a requirement of the Authority under this section shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twelve months, or to both.
21. Miscellaneous offences
A person who—
(a)fails or refuses to furnish a return or to supply information in the manner and in the time prescribed or furnishes a false or misleading return or supplies false or misleading information;(b)on being required to do so, fails or refuses to produce to a telecommunications officer or a police officer a licence or certificate issued under this Act or a book, record or document relating to any telecommunication equipment which is in his possession or under his control;(c)fails or refuses, without reasonable cause, to give information to a telecommunications officer or a police officer when required to do so under this Act or gives false or misleading information;(d)for the purpose of obtaining, whether for himself or any other person, the issue of a licence, makes a declaration or statement which he knows to be false in any material particular or does not believe to be true or knowingly makes use of a declaration, statement or document containing the same;(e)wilfully interferes with, hinders or impedes in any way the carrying on of a telecommunication service;(f)affixes or attaches a wire, conductor or other thing to any telecommunication apparatus;(g)interferes with, hinders or impedes in any way the establishment, erection, alteration, maintenance or inspection of any telecommunication apparatus;(h)knowingly transmits or causes to be transmitted a message of a blasphemous, indecent, obscene or offensive nature;(i)without lawful excuse, by any means interferes with or obstructs the carrying on of a telecommunication service; or(j)reproduces or divulges the contents or substance of a message not intended to be received by him, whether received voluntarily or involuntarily, to another person or uses it for any purpose whatsoever,
shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable to a penalty not exceeding twenty thousand penalty units or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years, or to both.
(1)The Minister, on the recommendation of the Authority, may make regulations prescribing all matters that by this Act are required or permitted to be prescribed or that are necessary or convenient to be prescribed for carrying out or giving effect to this Act.(2)Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1), the regulations may—
(a)prescribe procedures for licensing under this Act;(b)prescribe the fees payable for the issue of licences and for any service provided by the Authority, the Board or any telecommunication officer under this Act;(c)regulate and adjust the respective rights of licensees, consumers and persons having any interest in land in relation to the exercise by a licensee of its functions, the operation of its telecommunication system and matters incidental thereto; and(d)effect such savings and make such transitional provisions as may seem Act appropriate in consequence of the enactment of this Act and the amendment by this Act of the Posts and T elecommunications Act, 1987.(3)The regulations may create offences punishable by fines not exceeding five thousand penalty units for any contravention of the regulations.
23. Amendment of Act No. 18 of 1987 and savings
(1)Part IV (sections thirty-seven to fifty-three of the Posts and Telecommunications Act, 1987, and section sixty-eight, paragraph (c) of section sixty-nine and section seventy to seventy-four of that Act, are hereby repealed.(2)The Third Schedule has effect in respect of the Company and otherwise in respect of the amendment of the Posts and Telecommunications Act, 1987 by this section.
24. Repeal of remainder of Act No. 18 of 1987
On a date fixed by the Minister by statutory instrument, being a date not earlier than the commencement of this Act or the commencement of the Postal Services Act, 1994, the un-repealed portion of the Telecommunications Act, 1987, shall be repealed.