Zimbabwe’s second largest mobile network operator Telecel has defaulted on a licence renewal payment, according to the Zimbabwe Mail. The paper reports that Telecel has so far paid just USD8 million of the USD137.5 million total for its new 20-year concession and has still to make the first payment which was due last August. The next instalment of the licence fee is due in December. Telecel has defended its position by saying that it has funds available in a local commercial bank but there has been a problem getting the money released, while issues with its shareholding structure are also causing a delay. Under the government’s economic empowerment rules, foreign investors can have a maximum 49% stake in a local telco; Telecel is currently 60%-owned by Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom, with 40% held by the Empowerment Corporation. Vimpelcom and the Empowerment Corporation have reportedly been unable to settle on what proportion of the licence fee is due from each party.
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