ECONET HEADS WINNING CONSORTIUM TO BE KENYA’S THIRD MOBILE OPERATOR

Telecoms

A new mobile phone service provider is to enter the Kenyan market to challenge Safaricom and Kencell. A consortium headed by Econet Wireless of South Africa was yesterday declared the winning bidder for a third mobile telephone licence. Their bid amount was USD27 million (Sh2.1 billion), just under half the amount the Treasury fetched from past auctions. Econet is in partnership with the Kenya National Federation of Co- operatives Ltd (KNFC) and Lapcell, which is chaired by local businessman Manga Mugwe.

In previous licence sales, Safaricom and KenCell paid a uniform USD55 million (Sh4.3 billion). The global cost of GSM licences has been plummeting since 2000. The new company will begin rolling out in April 2004. The winner for the third mobile telephone concession out-bid MSI Cellular Investment Pty Ltd, which offered USD11 million. Kenya Telecommunications Investment Group (KTIG), a consortium of local investors and Detecon International GmbH of Germany failed to acquire the necessary technical points.

Although Manga Mugwe said mobile phone charges were likely to fall, industry watchers said the tariffs were unlikely to dip substantially.

The Daily Nation, Kenya