Kenya could have a third mobile phone operator in less than three months after Econet Wireless Kenya Ltd won a court case this week. Econet Wireless Kenya Limited, which won the tender to operate the third mobile phone service, is a subsidiary of the South African firm Econet Wireless International Ltd.

Econet International representative, Chris Wadmann, announced that USD14 million has been set aside to purchase equipment for rolling out the network after Justice Mohamed Ibrahim ruled in its favour. Justice Ibrahim set aside orders he issued last year restraining Econet Kenya from beginning operations, saying if all material facts had been presented to him then, he would never have issued the orders.

Justice Ibrahim ruled that the non-disclosure was deliberate and calculated to mislead the court. "The non-disclosure was not innocent. It was deliberate and calculated. A judge must have full confidence and once that is eroded he feels lost. That is how I feel lost," Ibrahim said.

He said when he issued the restraining orders sought by the Kenya National Federation of Co-operatives (KNFC), the court was made to believe that the Communication Commission of Kenya had refused to listen to KNFC. He said it was later proved that CCK had responded to all queries raised by KNFC but the latter had suppressed the facts when it sought ex parte orders. KNFC had argued that CCK gave Econet the mobile phone licence without consulting it and that it had refused to list it.

It had also argued that CCK had breached its own tendering system when it gave Econet the licence. But Justice Ibrahim ruled that KNFC had distorted facts and misled the court and ordered that it pays Econet, CCK and Corporate Africa costs of the suit. Econet moved to court under a certificate of urgency after Justice Ibrahim issued the restraining orders on November 26 last year. Through their lawyer Njoroge Regeru, they wanted the orders discharged, arguing that facts and relevant materials had been concealed and suppressed.

The East African Standard