Telecel licensing complicated by failure to comply with indigenisation laws – Potraz

Telecel licensing complicated by failure to comply with indigenisation laws – Potraz

VICTORIA FALLS, April 15 (The Source) – The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe  (Potraz) says issues surrounding Telecel Zimbabwe’s licensing are being complicated by its failure to comply with the country’s indigenisation law.

Telecel’s shareholding has Dutch-headquartered communications firm VimpelCom, which has a 60 percent stake with the remainder in the hands of Empowerment Corporation (EC), a local consortium. Zimbabwe’s indigenisation law demands that locals be majority owners, with a minimum 51 percent shareholding in companies valued at over $500,000.

Potraz acting director general, Baxton Sirewu told journalists on the sidelines of the Innovation Africa Digital Summit which started on Tuesday in the resort town of Victoria Falls that the regulator was currently looking at how ‘complications involving operations of Telecel Zimbabwe can be resolved.’

“I appreciate that a lot has been said in terms of Telecel licensing. What I can say is that there has been a number of complications on operations of the company and as a regulator we are working on these,” said Sirewu.

“Telecel has written to us giving representations and the complications have to do with indigenisation of the company and the issue to do with payment according to a plan signed between the company, ourselves and government.”

He said details of the deliberations would be availed once the process is concluded.

The firm has been caught up in a protracted dispute involving the various EC shareholders.

These are  Affirmative Action Group (AAG), Indigenous Business Women Organization (IBWO), Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU), Zimbabwe Liberation War Veterans Association (ZLWVNA), Zimbabwe (SS) Miners Association, Kestrel Corporation (Private) Limited and Integrated Engineering Group.

Government two months ago cancelled an agreement with the firm which allowed it to operate without paying $137,5 million to renew its operating licence.

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