Zimbabwean network provider Telecel has denied claims that it failed to pay its USD137.5 million operating licence renewal fee, local news agency TechZim reports. According to a letter signed by the company’s general manager Algeline Vere, ‘Telecel entered into negotiations which resulted in an agreement with the regulatory authority [POTRAZ] together with the Ministry of Transport & Communications and the Ministry of Finance to pay the licence fee over an agreed period with a deposit of USD14 million being paid forthwith. Our records will confirm that instructions to pay the deposit were immediately processed through our banks’. Further, the executive stated that the next instalment is due to be paid in December 2014, and claimed that Telecel is geared to meet its financial obligations.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, in August 2013 POTRAZ renewed Telecel’s operating licence after the company pledged to adhere to the country’s foreign ownership laws; majority shareholder Telecel Globe, itself ultimately owned by Russia’s Vimpelcom Group, was required to ensure that 60% of the Zimbabwean company’s shares are owned by a local shareholder. Representatives of Telecel Globe met with local shareholders and agreed on the method and modalities to sell the equity stake to local investors, but little in the way of concrete progress has been reported.