The Tanzania Communications Regulatory Authority (TCRA) is set to penalise telecommunications companies that have not completed the process of listing their shares at the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE).
Speaking to the press yesterday, TCRA Director General Engineer James Kilaba said among penalties that will be taken against the telecommunication companies that have not complied with requirements stipulated in the law include suspension or cancellation of their licences. Eng Kilaba said under the Electronic and Postal Communications Act (EPOCA) amended by the Finance Act of 2016 set the deadline for the firms to complete the process of listing at the DSE on 31st December last year.
"We are waiting for a list of companies from the Capital Markets and Securities Authority (CMSA) that failed to comply with the directives as required by the laws so they can be brought to task. Penalties stipulated in the law include suspension or cancellation of the licences," he explained.
The DG explained further that TCRA was in the process of preparing modalities of taking the companies to task as they await a list of those that failed from CMSA. "Punishing the companies that failed to comply with the law is a process and we are in preparation for that as we wait for the list of the firms which did not abide by the legal requirement from CMSA," he added.
The CMSA Principal Public Relations Officer, Mr Charles Shirima, told the 'Daily News' yesterday that so far only three telecom companies had prepared their prospectuses for listing at the DSE.
The three companies -- Vodacom Tanzania, Tigo and Airtel are the only ones who have so far submitted prospectuses to the CMSA ahead of the envisaged listing at the DSE as the telecommunications firms seek to abide by the law.
The Electronic and Postal Communication Act (EPOCA) of 2010 as amended by the Finance Act of 2016 requires companies with telecommunication licences to sell to the public 25 per cent of the shareholding and subsequently list into the Exchange.
Recently, the Minister for Works,Transport and Communications, Professor Makame Mbarawa, warned that phone companies failing to list on the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) will be dealt with mercilessly.
There are seven landline and mobile phone operators in the country so far -- Airtel, Smart, Halotel, Tigo, Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited (TTCL), Vodacom and Zantel. However, reports have it that TCRA provided about 89 names of companies, including those providing related services, which will then be verified if they qualify for CMSA.
During the 2016/17 budget debate, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, said the law would help the government to trace the revenues of the telecom companies and enable Tanzanians to own shares in the sector.
Tanzania is the second largest telecoms market in East Africa behind Kenya, with a penetration of 79 per cent of the total population, with subscribers estimated at 40 million in 2015. In the past five years, the landline subscriptions decreased by 22 per cent, from 174,511 in 2010 to 142,819 in 2015, while mobile subscriptions rose by 89 per cent, rom 21 million in 2010 to almost 40 million last year.