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Emergency numbers still pose a problem for mobile services in Zambia, according to the country’s telecommunications regulatory agency.

The country’s telecom infrastructure is still not able to connect all mobile phone users to local emergency services, according to the Communication Authority of Zambia (CAZ).

The CAZ will pursue various ways of implementing the country’s new numbering plan policy beginning next year, said agency spokesperson Ngabo Nankonde.

The numbering plan for Zambia, approved last year, calls for 991 to be the emergency number for both fixed and mobile phones. The problem is that many mobile phones are not manufactured in the country, and these foreign devices use 112 as the default emergency number.

The CAZ is working with service providers in the country to connect these foreign phones to local services.

“Regulations have been drafted to crystallize enforcement, which will soon be passed,” Nankonde said. The new regulations will enforce connectivity and support the new numbering plan, she added.

“Mobile phones come preconfigured to 112 for emergency calls, and once one dials this, it is rerouted to emergency services,” she explained.

Under licenses issued by the CAZ, operators are obliged to provide routing and connectivity to emergency services. All operators need to route emergency calls to the police station nearest to the caller’s location, Nankonde said.

All emergency services should be free to the caller, and all operators must take reasonable steps to ensure that the service is

available anywhere on their networks at any time, she said.

The CAZ also intends to launch public awareness campaigns to educate phone users about the issue, Nankonde added.

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