Airtel Kenya sues CA at High Court over permit renewal

17 August 2017

Telecoms

Airtel Kenya has gone to the High Court over its attempts to renew is operating permit with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), Business Daily reported. The matter has gone on for three years and its secrets have remained closely guarded. Airtel has filed a suit, seeking to block another demand from the CA that it pays USD 20.025 million spectrum fees before it can renew its operating licence.

The CA's demands are contained in letters sent to Airtel on 23 June and 25 July as a condition for the renewal of its network facility provider licence. Airtel insists that the CA had promised to merge its operating licences with the ones it purchased from Yu Mobile in 2014 for the USD 6.976 million it paid to acquire the Yu Mobile licences.

Airtel claims that its newly acquired licences are due to expire on 27 January 2025 but shortly after it paid the KES 718 million in December 2014, the CA shifted the goalposts and demanded another KES 2.062 billion as a condition for renewing Airtel’s licences.

The demands have thrown Airtel’s status in limbo with its original licences having expired on 27 January 2014. Since then, it has been operating on the strength of the licences acquired from Yu Mobile. Airtel says in new court filings that the CA has still refused to issue it with a new licence bearing Airtel’s name and incorporating new terms and conditions set by the regulator. Airtel legal and regulatory affairs director Joy Nyaga says Airtel is aggrieved by the demand for USD 20 million as spectrum fees, terming the decision illegal and unjust. 

Justice George Odunga has ordered that despite the courts being in recess, the CA and Airtel should appear before the judge on duty to attend to urgent suits. New court filings have revealed that in June 2015, the CA wrote to Airtel, stating that the total sum required for Airtel’s licence renewal was USD 27 million. The regulator, however, said it had acknowledged receipt of Airtel’s USD 6.976 million and deducted it from the total required, leaving a balance of USD 20.025 million.

Source: Telecom Paper