Zambian government sued over telecom seizure


Last summer, the Zambian government took control of Libya’s LAP Green Networks after the United Nations (UN) imposed sanctions on the north African country.

Zamtel at the centre of the controversy between the Libyan company LAP Green Networks and Zambian government. (image: zambianeye.com)

On Monday, the Libyan company said it would sue the Zambian government for $480 million, following their refusal to return a 75% stake in the country’s only fixed line telephone operator Zamtel.

Other governments who froze or took control of Libyan assets, have begun a process of restitution, but Zambia has been slow to act on the matter.

“We are compelled to take this course of action as dictated by the procedure set out in Zambian law,” LAP Green said in a statement.

“The petition filed today outlines LAP Green’s right to financial compensation for the value of the asset at the time of seizure should the shareholding not be restored to it, which is calculated to be $480 million,” it said.

Under its previous government, Zambia sold a majority stake in Zamtel to the Libyan operator for $257 million.

An inquiry in November declared the 2010 transaction illegal, which rattled investors’ confidence. It was one reason cited by ratings agency Fitch, for downgrading Zambia’s outlook to negative from stable.

In January, Zambia’s new government dissolved the board of Libya-controlled Zamtel, appointing a new chief executive- showing no signs of returning the company to LAP.

Joseph Mayton