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Communications Authority accuses State of clipping its powers

By Reuters | January 6th 2016

NAIROBI: Kenya's telecoms regulator accused the Government Tuesday of curbing the watchdog's ability to manage competition in the sector by recently changing the law and said the move could discourage investments.

Smaller operators in Kenya's telecom sector claim unfair competition, saying Safaricom, the biggest operator, is too dominant.

Francis Wangusi, Director General of the regulator Communications Authority of Kenya (CA), said parliament took away CA's independence in determining if an operator was dominant last month when it changed sections of the law.

The amendments, which have already been signed into law by President Uhuru Kenyatta, require CA to involve the country's competition authority and the ministry of information and communication before making a decision on market dominance.

"This is likely to expose CA to various forms of litigation and hinder efforts to further attract investments to the sector thus slowing down anticipated growth," Wangusi said in an emailed statement in response to questions from Reuters.

The chair of the energy and information, communications and technology committee in the National Assembly said lawmakers wanted to enhance the decision-making on issues of dominance in the sector by bringing in another body with expertise on competition.

"We don't want a situation where one party wakes up today and says 'you are dominant'," Jamleck Kamau told Reuters.

Wangusi said the changes flew in the face of the global practice, where dominance in telecom industries is usually assessed by the sector regulator independently based on market forecasts and other factors.

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