Zambia on Wednesday pressed ahead with a process to sell a majority stake in fixed-line phone group Zamtel, despite opposition criticism, and shortlisted all four bidders for a 75 percent holding.
Zambia, which is selling the stake in Zamtel in a bid to turn the group around, shortlisted four suitors for the next round of bidding due next week.
India's Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd, Angola's Unitel, Libya's LAP Green Networks and Russia's Altimo all submitted bids.
The sale has been criticised by opposition politicians and trade unions, who say Zambians should hold a bigger stake in the company.
Muhabi Lungu, acting director general of the Zambian Development Agency, said opposition criticism of the proposed sale was unpatriotic and could scare off potential investors.
"Even if you disagree with the methodology I don't think you are proving to be patriotic or nationalistic if you want to sabotage the process," Lungu said.
"The bids submitted were compelling, and set the stage for an exciting next phase," Lungu said.
Zamtel, whose revenue for the year to end-December was $100 million, is Zambia's only licensed fixed-line provider of voice and data communications, and has performed poorly despite its monopoly position.