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Regulator wants joint oversight on telecoms sector

By Macharia Kamau | Published Thu, August 9th 2018 at 00:00, Updated August 8th 2018 at 20:20 GMT +3

Competition Authority of Kenya Director General Wang'ombe Kariuki(L) and Policy and Research Director Dr.Adano Wario when they appeared before the National Assembly Communication, Information and Innovation Committee on inquiry into legislative and regulatory gaps affecting competition in the telecommunication sub-sector at County Hall, Nairobi at Parliament on Tuesday 07/08/18. [Boniface Okendo,Standard]

The Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) wants Parliament to enact laws compelling various regulatory agencies to work together while making decisions on firms whose operations cut across different sectors.

The watchdog cited mobile money as one of the areas that would need joint regulation, as it cuts across different sectors.

CAK, whose mandate also cuts across sectors, said it had relied on non-binding agreements with other regulators and the goodwill of officials.

Currently different laws offer options of signing agreements with other agencies in overseeing firms that operate in several industries.

CAK Director General Wang’ombe Kariuki said there was need to anchor such cooperation in law.

“The telecommunication sector has undergone rapid dynamism to the extent that its performance has a direct correlation with various other sectors such as banking and transport, and is also a key player in the Nairobi Securities Exchange,” he said, adding: “This means the sector is a fundamental driver of the economy.”

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Mr Kariuki spoke yesterday when he appeared before the Parliamentary Committee on Communication, which is seeking views on legislation and regulatory gaps in the telecommunications sector.

“It might not be easy for one regulator to oversee the sector. I would request the committee to come up with a way of compelling the regulators to work together for the betterment of this industry,” he said.

“The law allows us to come up with MOUs with other regulators, but it does not state clearly what would happen if (they are) not honoured.”

In the past, there have been differences of opinion between Central Bank of Kenya and Communications Authority (CA) on regulating telecommunications products and services such as mobile money and Internet banking.

At some point, CA had raised concerns about Pesalink – the money transfer service owned by banks - arguing that the service fell in a grey regulatory area and needed more than one regulator.

 


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