The submission of offers for Kenya’s SNO licence has been pushed back by a month to allow bidders to factor in the newly announced reserve price in their proposals.

Industry sources said the tenders for the second national operator (SNO) that were initially to be received by the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) last week could now be lodged at the end of the month.

Despite this concession, questions over how the reserve price will be computed and its disclosure towards the end of the selection process remain. "The reserve price still remains a major issue because it is not clear how it will be computed. Even the revelation that there is a reserve price just before the opening of the financial proposal amounts to alteration of the tender process," said a source.

The East African has learnt that bidders would prefer the reserve price to be disclosed before offers are submitted so that those who find it too high can opt out.

The reserve price was introduced by the government during a pre-bidding conference held in Nairobi last month, four months after the pre-qualification phase began. Four of the seven consortia that showed interest at the pre-qualification stage are still in the running.

According to regulator CCK both Telkom and the new entrant will be protected from a third national player if the two perform to expectations and present market conditions prevail. Localised voice and Internet provision licences will be issued to corporations for internal use only, leaving commercial public data network services to Telkom Kenya, the SNO and other licensees. The government has also said it will not impose a rural coverage obligation on the SNO and will leave the matter to be determined by market forces.

The East African