Telecel Zimbabwe Licence Renewed

Telecoms

The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe has renewed Telecel Zimbabwe's operating licence after the country's second mobile phone company made a commitment to comply with a requirement to have a local majority shareholder, the authority said last week.

Telecel is 60 percent owned by Telecel International and 40 percent owned by a local consortium, Empowerment Corporation. The move will come as a huge relief to thousands of Telecel subscribers who were no longer able to call subscribers on the Econet platform after they were cut off. Last month, Econet Wireless suspended interconnection with Telecel saying it was not a holder of a valid licence.

The shareholding structure contravenes local laws, in particular, the Postal and Telecommunications Act and the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act which requires locals to have majority stakes in mobile phone companies.

It also violates the shareholders' agreement which required the transfer of 20 percent shareholding from Telecel International to the Empowerment Corporation five years from the date of issuance of the licence.

Telecel got its first operating licence in 1998 and was due for renewal in June this year.

"Having noted the conclusion of negotiations between the Government of Zimbabwe and Telecel Zimbabwe regarding the renewal of Telecel Zimbabwe national mobile telecommunication licence, the authority hereby advises members of the public that Telecel Zimbabwe's mobile telecommunication licence has been renewed," Potraz said in a statement today.

"In reaching this decision, the authority, in particular, took note of the commitment made by Telecel Zimbabwe Limited to comply with the requirement to have a local majority shareholding, in line with Section 36 of the Postal and Telecommunications Act, the Indigenisation Act and the Telecel shareholding agreement."

Econet, the country's largest mobile operator said its new 20-year licence had certain strict conditions which require the company to interconnect only with licensed operators.