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Africa

Zambia
 
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Public Telephone Services (PTS)
This is one of the strategic Business units providing instant communications service to the public. The public Telecommunications services system available in the country under the Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited are:

( a ) Public pay-phones (PCOs) using pre-paid Token coins.

There are three types of ( PCOs ) in use:

- GNT 202
- GNT 203
- GNT 807 pay-phones

( b ) Attended Public pay-phones (ACO) using pre-paid chip Cards.
( c ) Tele-Centers using cash payments.
( d ) Attended Public Telephones and Fax using cash payments.

Number of PCO'S in the Country as at 31st July 1998


These have been broken into regions as follows:
( a ) Northen region
                                               AY 2              AY 3                  FAX                      TOTAL
                                               64                  123                     5                          192

( b ) Lusaka Region
                                              AY 2               AY 3                 FAX                       TOTAL
                                              125                103                     2                            230

( C ) Southern Region
                                              AY 2                AY 3                FAX                       TOTAL
TYPE TOTALS                            235                295                   11                           539

Number of Chip-card Phones............... 36
Number of Tele-center........................ 4

Future Plans
The future plans are that the Card-phones should be increased to cater for a large population segment in Zambia. Therefore, the need to invest into smaller units chip-card phones is every paramount.

From time to time over the years I have acquired a number of tokens I have known to be telephone tokens. Amongst the most common of these with dealers are Italian telephone tokens, pieces from Brasil, France, Israel and Poland are also often encountered. Lots of other countries have also used metal coin-like tokens in the past (very few these days due to the "phonecard"). So for countries such as Hungary, Latvia, Russia and Sweden I have managed to get a cheap telephone token without too much difficulty. But even with more than ten different countries represented in my telephone token collection I still had no knowledge of any African telephone tokens. Eventually (around 2 years ago) I found some, perhaps outdated, info for visitors to Zambia on the internet. This info included. . . .  "Public call boxes are being adapted to take tokens of 1 and 5 units; only calls within the country can be made from such telephones." Then a few months ago the internet helped me to find a specialist telephone token collector who at the time was having a go at finding out info and examples of South Asian telephone tokens. He was able to confirm to me the existence of the Zambian telephone tokens and of pieces for a few other African countries. For further information he put me in touch with a friend of his, this was Jose Luis Rubio the Executive President of the International Telephone Token Association (ITTA).

5 Units Zambia PTC Phone Token
Zambia PTC Phone 5 Units Token (Image from Jose Luis Rubio)

   About the Zambian telephone tokens he told me that there are three different pieces. (a) a "1  ONE UNIT" (b) a "1  ONE UNITS" due oddly to a design/typographical error (one of these sold, on eBay, in April 2003, for a quite amazing 260 U.S. Dollars) in and (c) a "5  FIVE UNITS". All three have a design rather similar to the 5 Units as seen above, all have a common obverse that includes the legends "ZAMBIA PTC PHONE TOKEN" and "IT'S YOU WE SERVE", all have "NOT LEGAL TENDER" on the reverse along with the relevant denomination related legends.

   Using an internet search engine with the phrase "Zambia PTC" I found a little info on this company . This page is on the site of the United Nations' Economic Commission for Africa and gives particulars of Zambia's telecommunication infrastructure. This subject is introduced with a little historical information. From that information I learnt that "PTC" stands for "Posts and Telecommunications Corporation" and Zambia PTC existed until the end of June 1994. Starting July 1st 1994 the two activities of post and telecommunications were split between two new companies, with telecommunications coming under Zambia Telecommunications Company Limited. Zamtel, as it is known, was said to be in the process of installing 400 token-operated payphones and 150 smart card phones across the Zambia, with equipment being supplied by a Danish company. This this site included mention of Zamtel's present services which it says include public pay-phones that use "pre-paid Token coins". So a new series of telephone tokens most likely exists for Zambia.

With special thanks to Mr Paul Baker