• This decision to phase out the use of airtime recharge cards is a step in the right direction.
• It will contribute to environmental protection, support financial inclusion, tax collection and enhance the use of digital services.
• Zambians will continue to recharge their phones through the use of electronic means.
Ministry of Technology and Science in partnership with the Global System for Mobile Association of Zambia (GSMAZ) has announced a project that seeks to phase out the use of airtime scratch cards by June 2023.
Minister in charge, Felix Mutati says the project entails that the three Mobile Network Operators in the country will begin to implement the phasing out of the use of airtime scratch cards.
Mr. Mutati states that the initiative is being driven by the Ministry in its strategic plan as it is evident that this is one of the ways the government can improve the access to and efficiency of digital technologies.
“This is part of our commitment as government through our ministry, ZICTA as a regulator, Mobile Network Operators and the Global System for Mobile Association of Zambia to implement our strategic plan under the 8th National Development Plan for digital transformation and environmental sustainability.”
“I believe this decision to phase out the use of airtime recharge cards is a step in the right direction as it will contribute to environmental protection, support financial inclusion, tax collection and enhance the use of digital services as well as promote the establishment of a digital economy in Zambia. I must make mention that through various initiatives by the telecommunications sector such as electronic loading of airtime, it has resulted in an increase in the use of electronic recharges to approximately over 55 percent,” Mr. Mutati said.
He added that Zambians will continue to recharge their phones through the use of electronic means as customers are already using electronic airtime recharge platforms to recharge their phones.
May I make mention that digital transformation presents a huge opportunity for developing countries such as ours, that seek to industrialize. Our target is to complete this project to phase out scratch cards by June, 2023 and before that, authorities will raise awareness across the country on this.
“Through the Ministry of Technology and Science, we are committed as government to support the overall digital transformation agenda at national level and the protection of the environment will be enhanced by the phasing out of airtime scratch cards,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Government Spokesperson Chushi Kasanda allayed fears that this might cause job losses in the informal sector as vendors will still be able to sell direct top-up airtime and still make profits and sustain their livelihoods.
In a statement, Ms. Kasanda, who is also Information and Media Minister, said through extensive partnerships with Fintechs, vendors will still be able to make commissions via the sale of electronic airtime.
“This milestone resolution will enable the Zambian populace to purchase airtime in an easier, instantaneous, safe and seamless process. This was evidenced during the Covid-19 pandemic when we saw a spike in the usage and purchase of electronic airtime as opposed to physical scratch cards.”
“We urge the general citizenry to embrace this change. Government has the end users interests at heart and we know that this will further improve our citizen’s general welfare,” Mrs. Kasanda said.
She commended ZICTA, GMSA, Ministry of Technology and Science and the Ministry of Green Economy for facilitating the successful launch of the eco-friendly transformation.
“Government would like to commend the mobile phone operators in Zambia for their joint decision to gradually phase out the usage of airtime scratch cards in the next six months. This will gravitate our country towards the digital technological advancement goals of the New Dawn government that include paperless transactions,” she stated.
Meanwhile, Zambia Information and Communication Technology Authority (ZICTA) Acting Director General Collins Chomba said the non-biodegradable nature of scratch cards is a risk to the environment, hence the decision to phase them out.