UPDATED: Potraz cancels Telecel licence, firm vows to challenge “unfair” move

UPDATED: Potraz cancels Telecel licence, firm vows to challenge “unfair” move

HARARE, April 29 (The Source) – The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) has cancelled the operating licence of Telecel Zimbabwe with effect from 28 April 2015.

Telecel Zimbabwe immediately slammed the decision, which it said was unwarranted.

“This measure is unfair and unwarranted. Telecel has made every effort to comply with all legal and governmental requirements in Zimbabwe, and objects to this treatment in the strongest terms,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“Telecel and its global shareholders are taking immediate action both locally and internationally to challenge this decision.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Potraz said it had cancelled the Telecel licence but did not give reasons. Two months ago, government cancelled an agreement with the firm which allowed it to operate without paying $137,5 million to renew its operating licence.

Potraz said it had given Telecel a special 30 -day dispensation to continue providing telecommunications services to its subscribers as it winds down its operations.

“In order to facilitate the smooth switch of the Telecel Zimbabwe network as well as ensuring that disruption is minimized, POTRAZ concurrently issued a special licence to Telecel to continue providing telecommunications services for a period of 30 days,” said POTRAZ in a statement on Wednesday.

“During this period, it is expected that Telecel Zimbabwe subscribers switch to alternative networks and those with credits on the Telecash Mobile money platform would make good their position.”

Telecel was also given another 60 days after switching off to decommission their equipment.

“A further 60 days (after switching off) has been given to Telecel Zimbabwe to decommission their telecommunication equipment. It should be underlined that the telecommunication equipment remains Telecel Zimbabwe’s property. It is up to Telecel Zimbabwe to decide what to do with the equipment,” said POTRAZ.

Telecel, which has just over two million subscribers according to the latest official data, is Zimbabwe’s third biggest mobile operator.

Potraz said Telecel could appeal against the licence cancellation to the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services.

Dutch-headquartered communications firm VimpelCom owns 60 percent of Telecel with the remaining 40 percent being controlled by Empowerment Corporation (EC), a local consortium.