KENYA'S NEW MINISTER TUJU SAYS SNO BIDDING PROCESS NEEDS TO BE RERUN

Telecoms

The bidding process for the Kenyan SNO has been thrown into chaos after it was cancelled by the Minister Raphael Tuju. On Monday morning last week, the Kenyan regulator CCK sent a press release to newsrooms announcing that the ceremony would proceed as planned. Hours later, a second advisory was hurriedly sent to the press cancelling the event.

It was not until Thursday that Tuju publicly admitted that he had indeed ordered the cancellation of the event, after receiving several representations alleging impropriety in the tendering process.

One of the difficulties of the tendering process has been the stability of the consortia involved. Care had to be taken to obviate the problems which have bedevilled the Third Mobile operator, where the winners of the licence are yet to hit the road, mainly due to disagreements between members of the Consortium over the raising of agreed funds.

It is understood that in the process of these enquiries, cases emerged where some key members of the consortium disowned their alleged partners. In turn, this created a great deal of anxiety among the competitors, because those whose bids had problems came to know about them in advance.Thus, the bidders who had disagreements with their fellow consortium members mounted a major campaign to have the announcement of the winner postponed.

One of these consortium disagreements has already gone to court. Wildstream Communications Ltd wants Telecommunication Consultants of India stopped from taking part. It says that Telecommunication Consultants was its partner before it withdrew from the consortium and joined other partners contrary to an agreement signed last year.

On Tuesday last week, Chacha Odera argued before High Court judge Onesmus Mutungi that the application filed by Wildstream Communications be dismissed because the plaintiff had not provided enough evidence to prove it would be damaged if it lost the international tender advertised by the Government. Odera informed the court that Wildstream Communications must provide a security of Sh200 million, which it had failed to do.

The fact that the Treasury had reduced the reserve price for the licence from Sh3.8 billion to Sh2 billion dollars was turned into ammunition to shoot the process down. Having only been appointed to the ministry recently, and figuring that he needed more time to asses the complaints, Mr Tuju decided to act.

The Nation and various others