Mozambican Transport Minister Tomas Salomao said last week that, if the South African mobile phone company Vodacom is unable to reach agreement on inter-connection charges with the Mozambican public telecommunications company, TDM, then the regulatory body, the Mozambique National Communications Institute (INCM), may be obliged to step in.

Last August Vodacom won the tender to become the second mobile phone operator in Mozambique. It is supposed to start its operations in April - but has reached no agreement with TDM on interconnection charges. AIM understands that Vodacom broke off the negotiations with TDM, and that there is no sign of any preparations to meet the April deadline. Press reports last month suggested that Vodacom had put pressure - so far unsuccessfully - on the government to force TDM, and its mobile phone subsidiary M-Cel, to double the prices they charge consumers.

Speaking at a Maputo press conference, Salomao recognised that this was a delicate issue, given the money involved. As a last resort, the INCM could step in and determine the inter- connection charges, but Salomao made it clear that the government would much prefer Vodacom and TDM to reach an understanding.

Agencia de Informacao de Mocambique