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Airtel To Pay Sh 2 Billion to renew licence

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Airtel Kenya CEO Prasanta Das Sarma during the of launch of Airtel Tubonge in Nairobi. / COURTESY

Airtel Kenya has been hit with a Sh 2 billion frequency spectrum renewal fee demand adding to the companies current financial woes.

The Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) claimed that Airtel’s operating license had expired January 27, 2015 and only renewable if they pay the $20.25 million (Sh2.06 billion) fee.

This follows a lawsuit by the mobile network company in August, claiming the CA had agreed to combine its license with those it had bought from moribund Yu Mobile in 2014 for $6.976 million (Sh718 million) and that the regulator changed their stance by asking for Sh2.06 billion for frequency spectrum.

According to CA director-general Francis Wangusi says Safaricom secured Yu Mobile’s frequency spectrum license instead of Airtel.

He added that the Sh 718 million only guaranteed  Airtel synchronisation of the telco’s operating licenses with those it inherited from Yu Mobile.

“Airtel Kenya did not acquire Essar’s frequency spectrum license as the same was acquired by Safaricom. Airtel’s frequency spectrum licenses expired on January 27, 2015. The CA therefore has a legitimate right to demand payment for renewal of Airtel’s frequency spectrum license,” Mr Wangusi said.

“The decision to demand for $20.25 million took into account relevant matters; that Airtel’s frequency spectrum licenses which were due for renewal on January 27, 2015 required to be renewed and the appropriate license fee paid in that respect,” he said.

The CA maintained that only ICT secretary Joe Mucheru can grant the mobile network company a waiver or reduction of the Sh2.06 billion renewal fee.

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