Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Business of Tech

Airtel to pay Kenyan regulator $17.5M for expired license

Article Image
Airtel Kenya has reached an out-of-court settlement with the local telecoms regulator that will see it pay 2 billion Kenyan shillings (US$17.5 million) for an expired license.

According to local publication Business Daily the deal with the Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) was inked on February 11, bringing a lengthy legal fight to a close, with Airtel Kenya promising to pay installments over the next two years to renew its license that expired in February 2015.

Airtel has about 16.7 million subscribers in Kenya according to statistics from market research company Omdia. It's the second biggest operator in the country with about 26% market share, behind Safaricom which controls about 67% of the market.

"We have had this long-standing dispute with Airtel over the Essar transaction. The dispute has been there for seven years. But I am glad to report that we struck a deal and this is a major achievement for us," CA director-general Ezra Chiloba told Business Daily in an interview.

He was referencing the deal whereby both Safaricom and Airtel bought out Essar group's yuMobile back in 2014 for a combined $120 million. Airtel took over yuMobile's 2.55 million subscribers and Safaricom acquired yuMobile's network, IT and office infrastructure assets.

The court dispute seems to have come from the operating license that Airtel purchased from yuMobile. Airtel was under the impression it would merge with its own operating license after the acquisition, while the regulator later said it would have to pay an extra KES2 billion to renew yuMobile's operating permit, which only expires in January 2025.

Ownership issues

Airtel Kenya is also reportedly looking for exemption from the government rule that would require it to have 30% local ownership by 2024. Various local media have reported that it had to pay the $17.5 million to end the license dispute in order to get that exemption.

As part of its 2022 Q3 trading update Airtel said that its Kenyan operation had three years from April 9, 2021 to comply with the requirement to have a 30% local shareholding but that the telco currently holds "an indefinite exemption from the Minister for ICT" dated March 20, 2013.

Airtel Money, which holds a content service provider license from the CA, also has until late 2023 to comply with the 30% local shareholding rule.

Under the amended ICT policy, a telecoms licensees may apply to the ICT Minister for an extension of time to comply with the requirement, or to obtain an exemption.

Airtel Africa, which operates in 14 African markets, reported strong financials for the first nine months of the year with reported revenue up by 21.7% to $3.5 billion and grew its African customer base by 5.8% to 125.8 million.

Airtel Africa had not responded to request for comment on the Kenya license at the time of publication.

Related posts:

*Top image source: jbdodane on Flickr CC 2.0

— The Staff, Connecting Africa

Innovation hub

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

Story

SA startup Sendoff is digitizing funerals

South African startup Sendoff is a full-service funeral app that is digitizing the way funerals are organized.

More Innovation hub

Africa Tech Perspectives

Story

Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

Story

Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

Story

Accelerating women in STEM: In conversation with GirlCode's Tinyiko Simbine

GirlCode co-founder and CFO Tinyiko Simbine talks about why it's important to help girls and young women excel in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.

More AfricaCom perspectives

Partner perspectives

5G is lighting up the future of North Africa
By Chris Meng, VP of Huawei Northern Africa Carrier Business Department

The moving target that is telecoms fraud
By Clémentine Fournier, Regional VP Sales, Africa, BICS

How mobile operators in Africa can address signalling threats and secure the network
By Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud and Security at BICS

All Partner Perspectives

Latest video

More videos

Guest Perspectives

Story

Omdia View: June 2022

By Omdia Analysts

5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

Story

Omdia View: May 2022

By Omdia Analysts

SpaceX-owned Starlink's plans to launch a satellite broadband service in Africa was a major highlight in May 2022, says Omdia's analysts.

More Guest Perspectives

Upcoming events

Africa Tech Festival
November 7-11, 2022
CTICC, Cape Town
More Upcoming events

Archived webinars

Africa Green ICT: Lighting Up a Sustainable Continent

The ICT industry is the leading industry in the commitment to carbon neutrality, whose focus has shifted from setting ambitious targets to taking initiatives. The push for zero-carbon and for green energy development, it isn't just about CSR – it's also good for sustainable business.

The path to sustainable development requires green energy. Governments are looking at potential policy approaches to make green energy more widely available and affordable. Without sustainable energy, there will be no digital transformation and no chance of making Africa more economically competitive in the post-pandemic era.

Africa Green ICT Webinar 2022 will bring together ICT industry leaders and senior industrial analysts to provide insight, best practices and key learnings on how to achieve zero-carbon targets and practice green development in Africa.

More Webinars

Sponsored video

More videos

Flash poll

All polls

Like us on Facebook

Newsletter Sign Up


Sign Up