Telecel initiates licence renewal talks

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TELECEL Zimbabwe’s majority share-holders Orascom have begun talk with other minority shareholders to sort out issues that could affect its license renewal.
The government last week hiked operator fees for mobile phone companies to US$137 million for 20 years from the previous US$100 million.
Transport and Communications Minister Nicholas Goche warned Telecel Zimbabwe that its licence may be revoked unless the company complies with the country’s empowerment legislation.
Telecel Zimbabwe’s 15 year license expires next month.
However Orascom said it was in talks “over the terms and conditions” to renew the license after government told them a condition to have their license renewed was them transferring majority ownership of the company to Zimbabweans.
Orascom Telecom has 60 percent ownership in Telecel Zimbabwe with the balance held by a consortium of local investors.
“The license fees have increased from US$100 million for a 15 year tenure to US$137,5 million for 20 years. How we use the money is none of anyone’s business,” Goche told reporters in Harare.
“Mobile operators will still pay an annual license fee of two percent of their annual gross turnover. Operators will also pay 0,5 percent of the annual gross turnover to the Universal Service Fund.
“The license will cover the range of services that are commonly referred to as 2G through to 3G. Companies will also pay frequency spectrum fees in accordance with their different requirements of that limited national resource.”
Goche said Econet Wireless, the country’s largest mobile telecoms operator had already applied to have its licence approved under the new terms.
“Econet Wireless, the largest telecoms firm in Zimbabwe, has already applied for a license renewal on the new terms, had it approved, and a 20 year license issued,” he said.
The minister however, warned Telecel Zimbabwe that its licence would not be renewed until the company restructured its ownership in terms of the country’s indigenisation laws.
“They must meet the conditions they were asked to meet, they must go back to the original position of 60-40 with Empowerment Corporation once they meet that position there will be no problem,” said Goche.
“There pressure is on them (to address the shareholding anomaly). If they don’t do that I will not renew their licence. The ball is in the court (as their licence is about to expire).”Advertisement