The Star (Nairobi)

15 August 2014

Kenya: Safaricom Says Won't Be Forced to Share Own Infrastructure

SAFARICOM should not be forced to share its infrastructure network in a bid to expedite approval of the joint acquisition bid with rival Airtel for exiting Essar Telecom's yuMobile, chief executive Bob Collymore has said.

"If you ask me should I be forced to share my network? I say hell no...because you as an investor or shareholder has invested on average Sh25 billion to Sh27 billion a year," he said on Tuesday. "Why should somebody then come along and have a right to jump over that...(It) is a disincentive to investors."

Safaricom is interested in Indian Essar's passive 453 network sites and their leases, data centre,office space, spectrum and residual assets including IT infrastructure, while Airtel wants yuMobile's close to 2.8 million subscribers, GSM licences and subscriber related contracts.

CA director-general Francis Wangusi has nonetheless severally insisted on "infrastructure sharing and collocation" as the main condition for the impending take over priced at $120 million (about Sh10.56 billion), citing provisions of the Kenya Information Communication Amendment Act.

Safaricom was required to open its framework for infrastructure sharing with other licensed operators on commercial basis as well as hosting of Mobile Virtual Network Operators with clear time frames.

CA on March 28 approved three MVNOs - Finserve Africa (Equity Bank's subsidiary), ZionCell and Mobile Pay - all Airtel's infrastructure network.

Airtel has further brought on board national carrier Kenya Airways although this is still awaiting CA's approval.

Collymore said no prospective MVNO has approached the dominant mobile network operator with over 21.6 million subscribers.

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