Lusaka Lab In A Container

Don’t you just love creative innovation? I do! Check this from PlusNews

A tiny laboratory capable of doing big things is what Barry Kosloff, working with the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, has created – a new type of high-tech, low-cost, tuberculosis (TB) lab in a shipping container. He walked IRIN/PlusNews through what it takes to build one.

“I don’t know if this is normal but it’s almost like I had a photograph of it in my head,” said Kosloff, who designed such a lab for the national reference laboratory in the capital, Lusaka. It is part of efforts by the Zambia AIDS-Related TB Project, a local NGO, to expand the country’s diagnostic capacity.

The facility is the first in Zambia to be equipped with infection controls that make it safe for staff to grow the TB cultures needed to diagnose HIV-positive patients, and to determine whether TB patients have successfully completed treatment.

London School Of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine? Now that stirs some memories in my foot!



Check these pictures supplied by our Guests Des and Ant – intrepid 4×4 explorers with a vehicle supplied by Hemingways, Livingstone. They got stuck in the mud, in the bush, 90 kms west of Zimba, which is 75kms north of Livingstone. They had to walk almost 40 kms out of the bush to get mobile phone contact for a rescue.

Don’t be deceived by the pictures – that mud was apparently knee deep the moment you stepped in it. Hemingways managed to eventually haul them out of there!

Why were they there in the first place? They were looking for an access route into an area designated for their company to plant sugar cane.

Looks like they didn’t find it!!



We’ve been clients of Africonnect since 2005 and were in fact one of the first establishments in Livingstone to use their services and to have wifi broadband. We’re delighted they’re expanding and developing and all in all the service is good, though I complain a lot….We are an ‘ISpot’ open to the public for internet connection at reasonable rates as well as providing a generally good service for our guests. If we had a criticism? Their PR.

Africonnect has commissioned a high speed fibre optic cable link to connect Zambia to the rest of the world. Africonnect Managing Director Mark Bennett said in Lusaka today that the move was part of the continued integration of Africonnect into the Vodacom Group network. Mr. Bennett said at a media briefing in Lusaka today that the company has commissioned a direct fibre link directly into South Africa with ultra low latency.

Zanis reports that he said quicker, more reliable and more robust connectivity into South Africa will improve efficiency for all customers who are connected to the headquarters, suppliers, customers or websites located in South Africa. Mr. Bennett further said in addition to the new fibre installation, Africonnect has commissioned more resilience through a second terrestrial link to Europe, and has bought more satellite capacity, which will offer 1:1 back- up in case of any fibre cuts or scheduled maintenance.

He said part two of the international fibre installation will include the commissioning of an MPLS link into the Vodacom MPLS network located in Johannesburg. He said this will be live in the next weeks. Mr. Bennett noted that the network expansion is now well under way while the upgrading of the Copperbelt network that will create an MPLS backbone between the Copperbelt and Lusaka has been completed.

He said the network upgrading will increase capacity in Kitwe, Ndola and Chingola. He further said as a commitment to the growth of the Copperbelt, the company has also introduced new services in Luanshya, Mufulira and Chililabombwe. He added that Africonnect has begun wireless broadband service in Mazabuka and Siavonga.

Meanwhile, Mr. Bennett has disclosed that with effect from 1st March this year, Africonnect will introduce new low cost; pay-as- you- go wireless internet access. He said for the past five years, Africonnect has offered its high- speed iConnect broadband service via fixed monthly subscriptions with higher cost equipment. He said the company is now introducing a service for homes and small businesses with a start- up cost of under K1 million, including equipment and an initial K300,000 of surf-time. Mr. Bennett has since said the new pay as you internet access will be available throughout Lusaka, with other towns following shortly.



This is an interesting piece by Nawa Mutumweno on ShoutAfrica

“Zambia telecommunications firm, ZAMTEL, will in the next two years invest $180 million (about ZMK 852 billion) to expand and enhance its operations. According to company managing director Hans Paulsen, ZAMTEL plans to invest in infrastructure development to increase its subscriber base to 2 million over the next two years in addition to improving its service provision.

“We are in the process of bringing in investment programmes to grow infrastructure. Initially, we had targeted to spend $120 million but we realized this was not enough. We are now going to spend $180 million over the next two years. Growth opportunities in the communications sector were vast and ZAMTEL would seize every opportunity to gain a better market share in the industry. “Currently, penetration is about 35% of the Zambian population, meaning that there is still enough room for growth.

ZAMTEL was on track following the restructuring programme initiated on privatization, making Zambia catch up with advances in telecommunications technology. The firm, one of the three telecommunication firms in the country, would greatly benefit from the LAP Green network through knowledge sharing and technological advancements. LAP Green of Libya owns 75% shares in ZAMTEL. Meanwhile LAP Green is to connect over 6 000 households to broadband internet in Lusaka under the Next Generation Network (NGN) after the rollout plan for the town is completed this month.

The firm has so far invested $23 million to roll out the NGN exchanges in the country and is expected to complete Phase One of the roll out plan in Lusaka in January. Exchanges have since been switched from analogue to digital. In a bid to upgrade and modernize fixed line infrastructure across the country, ZAMTEL has embarked on Phase One of decommissioning of all old analogue land line exchanges and replace them with the NGN exchanges (digital).

This change from analogue to digital exchanges will enable customers to get the benefits of additional features on their land lines such as fast and affordable broadband internet, audio and video conferencing as well as missed call notification, among other services. According to ZAMTEL’s corporate communications senior manager Kennedy Mambwe, the NGN roll out plan is advancing well and almost complete in Lusaka.

“We want to upgrade all infrastructure and make sure that every household can have broadband internet speed.”

Bring it on Zamtel! The sooner the better!


Egypt Air New Route To Zambia

Although we wish there were more international flights coming into Livingstone from Europe and Asia, any new ones into Zambia are welcome, so we’re happy to report this through LusakaTimes

North African aviation giant Egypt Air has launched its first ever direct commercial flight to Zambia. The first Egypt Airliner recently touched down at the Lusaka International Airport carrying Egypt Air Chairman, Captain Alaa Ashour and Zambia’s Ambassador to Egypt Lieutenant General Herbert Simutowe among other passengers. Egyptian Ambassador to Zambia Salah EL Sadek was on hand to receive the delegation.

Speaking to the press later, Ambassador Simutowe said the introduction of the direct flight from Zambia to Egypt and back would have a positive effect on the Zambian economy. He said Egypt being a developed country, the new route would also see more investors and tourists visiting Zambia. And Ambassador El Shadek said the introduction of Zambia on the list of Egypt Air destinations was as a result of President Rupiah Banda’s fruitful visit to the country recently.

He said the development would also enhance the long standing good relations that the two countries were enjoying.


Cresta Mukuni Safari Lodge

This from caught my eye – as you’d expect! Don’t know where it is to be situated but from the sound of it, somewhere in Chief Mukuni’s area. Now there’s a surprise! (There he is above).

Capital Corp Merchant Banking is pleased to announce that it has signed on for a $15.4 M project with Zambian corporation Playland Limited to create the Cresta Mukuni Safari Lodge Victoria Falls. The aim of the project is to build an internationally recognized 4-star Safari Lodge with modern facilities: amenities and conveniences which will cater for incentive groups from Europe and America with facilities that can also be used for local and regional markets in the European off-season. Apart from hotel accommodations, the project will offer other timeshare facilities that will cater to both local and foreign clientele.

The business concept of the project is strong, given the significant gap in the market for Safari and wilderness type high-end hotels in the Victoria Falls area where only 70 hotel rooms exist on the Zimbabwean side, and with limited conference facilities. In order to have a quick impact on the market and to enhance its position, Playland Limited has signed a management contract with Cresta Hospitality which is one of the biggest hospitality groups in southern Africa managing and operating 13 properties in 3 countries (Zimbabwe, Botswana, and Nigeria), to manage its property. This will provide the development with the key personnel, marketing strategies, and implementation strategy needed to insure a smooth and efficient development.

Cresta Mukuni will be twinned with the famous Cresta Mowana Safari Lodge situated in the Botswana National Park, which has won major international awards.


Intercape – Jo’burg/Livingstone

This is encouraging from the Zambian Watchdog

South Africa’s biggest intercity passenger bus services will introduce its services to Zambia at the end of October, the Watchdog understands. Intercape currently services all towns in South Africa and most cities in Southern Africa. The introduction of Intercape services from Johannesburg to Lusaka and Livingstone is likely to bring excitement to passengers who have been subjected to poor services by Zambian operators.

Hundreds of cross-border traders travel from Lusaka to South Africa everyday but there have been complaints of poor services. South Africa is one Zambia’s biggest trade partners. Among the most frequent complaints from travellers has been overloading of luggage to the extent where luggage is packed inside the bus on the seats meant for passengers, over speeding, lack of toilets on board and lack of courtesy by bus crews. Passengers have also been complaining of being dumped in some dark corners called stations when they reach Johannesburg at night.

Though slightly more expensive than the current route operators, Intercape’s safety record and condition of the coaches are excellent.

Bring it on!


Internet Hope?

Is there hope on the horizon? Given our generally crappy internet connection and speeds – even though we do use the best ISP available, any development like this would be so welcome. Thanks to The Citizen for the story.

Zambia and Botswana authorities have signed a memorandum of understanding to connect the two nations with a universal optic cable that will enhance Internet connectivity and telecommunication services. Zambia’s Telecommunications Company (Zamtel) and the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) this week signed the MoU to connect a fibre optic cable network through the Kazungula border post.

The joint telecommunications project will cost US$258,000 and is expected take between three to four months to be built. Zamtel CEO Amon Jere said in Lusaka that once effected, the project would make Zambia a telecommunications hub in the southern African region. Jere said the project would help reduce the cost of international connectivity and improve the quality and speed of Internet services.

He disclosed that that the company was considering connecting another fibre optic cable with Namibia through Kazungula. “We are working on providing high quality but affordable high-speed Internet for all Zambians”, Jere said. “Every Zambian must have access to affordable high quality broadband Internet through both mobile and fixed Internet.”

BTC, which provides the country’s national and international telecommunications services, early this year signed a similar $5 million deal with Powertel of Zimbabwe. Under the deal, BTC provides Powertel with international bandwidth capacity for two years after the two organisations completed cross-border fibre optic connections at Ramokgwebana in December 2009.

Fibre optic cables are a special communication module used to carry data and information, widely used by Internet service providers and in other telecommunication systems. It offers relatively low consumer prices. BTC has already committed to invest P504 million to secure reliable bandwidth connection from an undersea fibre optic through the West African Cable System (WACS).

The picture? Chobe National Park in Botswana, close to Kazangula


Solar Energy

With rapidly rising electricity costs in Zambia (this year will see more than a 50% rise) this, from CNN, is the future:

“In rural communities of Africa, where more than 95 percent of homes have no access to electricity, solar energy has the power to transform lives. Globally, 1.5 billion people, one quarter of the world’s population, live without electricity, according to a United Nations report.

Those who can afford any power at all spend large proportions of their income on kerosene for lamps or travel to larger towns to charge their batteries several times a week. Burning kerosene contributes to indoor air pollution, which is estimated to kill 1.6 million people each year. Kerosene lamps also lead to fires that cause severe burns and deaths.

Solar energy saves families money as well as allowing children to study in the evenings and giving families access to information through radio and television and mobile phone chargers. Lack of access to energy is a cause of poverty, not just a result of poverty. The light from a solar-powered bulb is also between 10 and 20 times brighter than from a kerosene lamp.

Among those bringing solar power to the world’s poor is Rural Energy Foundation, a Dutch non-profit organization. It has now helped 450,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa gain access to low-cost solar power. Rural Energy Foundation runs the SolarNow program, training independent retailers and technicians in nine countries to sell low-cost solar gadgets or home systems to people without electricity.

Last month, the organization was one of the international winners of the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy. Willem Nolens, director of Rural Energy Foundation, said: “Lack of access to energy, just as lack of clean drinking water, is a cause of poverty, not just a result of poverty.

“Gaining access to electricity can be really life-changing. People can increase their productivity, children can study, read books and watch television, which allows them to be connected to the world. “Whole villages can become self-sufficient once someone has a home solar system.” Rural Energy Foundation supports 250 independent local retailers in Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mali, Tanzania, Uganda, Senegal, Mozambique and Zambia.


Hostels Board Of Zambia

The Hostels Board Of Zambia has recently opened Livingstone Lodge (pictured above) in the city. The lodge is located on the road to Maramba just past central police, on the site of the former Busiku Guest House. Their room rate is K250,000 per room per night – about US$50 at today’s exchange rate. They might, however, not be able to maintain that rate for long, given the statement from Government below.

“Works and Supply Minister Mike Mulongoti has announced a cut in financial support to all lodges under his ministry because ‘they have the capacity to generate their own income’. “This is the last time that you will be supported by my ministry. I have seen individuals with only one lodge and they are surviving but you have 10 lodges. I warned the Hostels Board the last time we were budgeting that I am cutting their budget because they have the capacity to generate their own income. This is a timely warning that this is the last year,” he said

Mr Mulongoti said the lodges must generate money so that Government receives dividends from them and that these should be declared at the start of the next financial year (2011). Government has spent K2.7 billion in the rehabilitation and construction of facilities at the Livingstone Lodge which comprises a conference room, deluxe executive suite and 11 executive rooms.

The second phase of the project will involve the building of a one storey building that will have 20 rooms. Mr Mulongoti said this yesterday when he commissioned the new Livingstone Lodge. The Minister was accompanied by his deputy Dr Christopher Kalila and permanent secretary Watson Ng’ambi. He said the Hostels Board should no longer depend on government for financial support. He challenged the National Hostels Board to venture into constructing a five-star hotel instead of being comfortable with lodges.

Mr Mulongoti encouraged the Hostels Board to go into partnerships with other investors. He said that since its inception in 1957, the board has had only seven hostels that were left by the colonial government, and three that have been constructed since. “I want one day, either President Rupiah Banda or myself to be able to commission a five-star hotel before we continue quarreling with our competitive sector we are in. You know we have too many vuvuzelas (critics) who are always refusing to acknowledge what we are doing. This is one of the developments,” he said.

He urged the staff and management to work hard in their lodges throughout the country in order to win consumer confidence and attract clients. “We have as a nation not approached tourism with the aggression it deserves. Investing in this sector is not easily accessed especially for Zambians hence the need for a total review of requirements and procedures for one to venture into tourism,” he said.

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