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‘Telecel Zimbabwe fails to pay licence renewal fee’

Telecel Zimbabwe fails to pay licence renewal fee.

Zimbabwe's second largest mobile network operator Telecel has failed to pay its operating licence renewal fee, according to a government insider.

The Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz) renewed Telecel's operating licence late last year for a 20 year tenure.

This move came after controversy dogged Telecel in Zimbabwe over its non-compliance with the country’s local indigenisation policy, which states that foreign owned companies should cede 51% of their shares to black Zimbabwean groups.

Telecel Zimbabwe's shareholding structure includes Egypt’s Orascom, which is said to control as much as 60% of the Zimbabwean unit.

Telecel, though, promised to change its ownership structure and Potraz granted the company its licence renewal.

But a government insider says Telecel has failed to pay its $137.5 million renewal fee.

“Telecel has to pay its licence fees because very soon complaints will be brought that the government is not being fair,” a government official who did not want to be named said on Thursday.

Samuel Kundishora, Zimbabwe’s ICT postal and courier services permanent secretary on Thursday was also quoted as saying Telecel has to do “something” to ensure that it meets its licence obligations.

“It is important for telecommunications companies to commit themselves to what would have been agreed. Something has to be done,” said Kundishora.

Potraz and Telecel Zimbabwe officials were not immediately reachable for comment.

The telco is also said to not have yet complied with the country's contentious indigenisation and local empowerment policy.

This is despite reports last year that said Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwao had been ‘roped in’ as part of an empowerment deal that saved Telecel from having its licence revoked.

Meanwhile, Obert Mandimika, the communications manager at Telecel Zimbabwe, told the Financial Gazette newspaper in Zimbabwe that his company is working on a plan to comply with all requirements “as soon as possible” but would not comment further.

Telecel has over 2.5 million mobile network subscribers and is readying its own mobile money payment service, TeleCash, to rival Econet's EcoCash platform which now has 3 million users.

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