MPs, regulator tussle over telcos dominance report

Communications Authority of Kenya Director General Francis Wangusi in an earlier event. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]
The public has until Friday this week to present views to Parliament in the inquiry on dominance in the telecommunications sector.

“Concerns have been raised on the alleged abuse of dominance in the telecommunications sub-sector,” said lawmakers in a memorandum published yesterday.

“In light of these concerns, the departmental Committee on Communication, Information and Innovation resolved to conduct an inquiry into legislative and regulatory gaps affecting competition in the sub-sector and propose measures to mitigate.”

Interested members of public have been invited to submit views and comments before Friday, September 7, 2018.

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This comes even as Communication Authority of Kenya (CA), the industry regulator, insists on implementing the report developed by UK consultancy firm Analysys Mason in its original format.

CA Director General Francis Wangusi was adamant that the regulator would implement the report and that Parliament’s inquiry would only serve to give additional recommendations.

“We shared the report with Parliament as stakeholders, which are part of the process, and they went ahead to do their own stakeholder engagement,” explained Mr Wangusi.

“Dominance is not an act of Parliament but a function of the regulator. Our report is ready, but we are awaiting the report from Parliament to compare with what we have and then move to implement.”

The report had recommended having M-Pesa separated from Safaricom operationally and in its financial reporting, creating a new entity – recommendations rejected by ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru.

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 Service providers

The report had also recommended that Safaricom shares its tower infrastructure with other Tier 1 service providers in 14 counties, where telecommunications infrastructure was lacking.

These have since been halved to seven counties in the wake of criticism that this was seen as being punitive for prior investment.

Safaricom Chief Executive Bob Collymore last week said the company would not relent in its push against policy interventions it deemed punitive and instigated by rival players.

“It’s no secret that the competition has been quite vocal in its push for parliamentary and regulatory intervention to have Safaricom shackled in our ability to deliver innovative and competitive solutions for our customers,’ said Mr Collymore while addressing shareholders during the company’s annual general meeting.

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“Defending our position is therefore critical not only to protecting your investment but to protecting our customers. For this reason, we will continue to engage with the relevant stakeholders to ensure that these interests are protected.”

Safaricom Chief Executive Bob CollymoreSafaricomICT Cabinet Secretary Joe MucheruCA Director General Francis WangusiCommunication Authority of Kenya