Communications In Zambia

Communications In Zambia can generally be categorized into two according to ownership: private owned and public or state owned. 

Those in private hands are usually owned by the church, cooperatives, learning institutions or individuals.

Until 1991, the means of communications in Zambia where owned and run by the state. Radio broadcasting started in 1941; Television followed 20 years later in 1961. Print media started earlier in Livingstone (1902).


Zambians today have a variety of television and radio stations available. Some are privately owned and the rest are state owned and run by the Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).

ZNBC runs two television stations, TV 1 and TV 2. It also has a number of radio stations. Of the private broadcasters, Muvi television in Lusaka is the most well-known privately owned television station. It has been on air for some time now and has built a sizable audience of its own.

The South African based satellite broadcaster, Multichoice, is also available to most Zambians who can afford the subscription fees.

Radio Broadcasting In Zambia

The first radio broadcasting in Zambia started in Lusaka in 1941. The radio station was run by the colonial government (Northern Rhodesia).

After independence, radio broadcasting fell under the Zambia Broadcasting Services (ZBS) which is now called Zambia National Broadcasting Corporation (ZNBC).  

Until 1991 when the government liberalized the media industry, radio broadcasting was in the hands of the government. Since then, there has been a resurgent of new privately owned radio stations. Most of these stations are community based and hence their coverage is limited. But they are proving to be very popular to their communities.

Community Radio Stations In Zambia

Zambia has seen a mushrooming of community radio stations not only in urban centers but in rural areas as well. 

Community radio stations arose in large part due to the inability of the national broadcaster (ZNBC) to reach all parts of the country. 

The diversity of the Zambian custom and culture provides a thriving ground for community radio stations. 

Print Media

Print media started in Livingstone in 1902 by William Trayner. The publication was called the ‘Livingstone Pioneer and Advertiser’.

In 1936, the colonial government (Northern Rhodesia) launched the country’s first newspaper called ‘Mutende’.

The country has seen an increase in the number of publications, especially the privately owned. Of the notable dairies are the Times of Zambia, the Zambia Daily Mail (both state owned) and The Post, which is privately owned. 

Mobile Phones

Before economic liberalization (2004), the state owned Zamtel was the only telecommunications provider in the country and CellZ its mobile subsidiary.

Today, the telecommunications industry has gone a major transformation which has seen the introduction of two more mobile phone operators; MTN and Airtel. 

Zambia today has 34.1 percent of the population as subscribers and three mobile cellular service providers with Airtel having the biggest share of the market, followed by MTN and lastly CellZ.

With the mushrooming of competition in the urban areas and surrounding areas, mobile phone service providers are now being forced to put up infrastructure and try and capture the rural market.

Postal Services

The state owned Zambia Postal Services Corporation runs the postal system in Zambia. It has outlets in all parts of the country and you don’t need to travel far to find one. 

Apart from running the traditional postal services, it also offers cash transfer services (SwiftCash), courier services, and transport services (Postbus and Postboat).   

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