Weekly digest for 20 Aug 2021
KEY READING FOR THE WEEK
This week’s main story is from South Africa and is about regulatory paralysis. The Internet Service Providers’ Association (ISPA) released a statement asking ICASA to remove unnecessary red tape that imposes significant delays on the sector. Transfers of ownership or control of licenses can take up to 6 months to get approval. Changes to internal shareholder arrangements can take up to a year. This means that after a commercial agreement has been reached, the regulatory delay is another 6 months to a year. ICASA’s example is indicative of the challenge facing other regulators in Africa: decisions take far too long and when the decision is finally released, the delay is unjustified. Here’s just one other example: in Uganda, the OTT tax was removed in favour of a data tax in June 2021. Some customers were left with a credit on their OTT tax account. The UCC and URA has still not decided what to do with the excess OTT payments. The solution is simple: refund the excess fees to the customers. This decision should have been made the day that the OTT tax was withdrawn by government.
OTHER WEEKLY NEWS FROM AROUND AFRICA
- Ethiopia: MTN has confirmed that it will not bid on the 2nd MNO license. Is this a case of the Ethiopian government being too greedy and will now miss out on around USD680 million in license fees and billions in investment?
- Zambia: The government blocked social media sites on the 12th of August but the High Court has ordered for access to these services to be restored on the 16th of August.
- Uganda: Smart Telecom will cease operations on 31 August 2021, citing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its business.
- Namibia: MTC will release its prospectus for the listing of 49% of its shares on the Namibia stock exchange on 20 September. The prospectus will show the expected price for its shares.
- Helios: H1 2021 results were released by Helios Towers, showing an EBITDA margin of 54% and a total of 8,603 sites across Africa.