A Congolese court has upheld the government’s suspension of Vodacom Congo’s 2G licence, Reuters reports, citing the country’s telecommunications ministry. Vodacom had been accused of underpaying for the renewal of its 2G concession, paying USD16.25 million to extend the licence through a process the ministry claims did follow proper procedures. The cost of renewal is now USD65 million, the government added, noting that the operator now has three months to negotiate the renewal with the government before the concession is put up for auction.
For its part, the cellco said in a statement that it was ‘engaged in discussions to reach an amicable outcome’ with the government, adding that the licence suspension does not affect its 3G and 4G licences. The operator went on to say that it: ‘obtained the extension of its 2G licence in 2015 legally and in conformity with the laws and regulations in effect at the time’.
As previously noted by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the cellco suggested in May this year that the government was retroactively applying regulations introduced in 2016 and 2017 – fixing rates for duties, taxes and fees to be collected by the ministry and establishing standards for licence renewals, respectively – to its 2015 renewal process.