Weekly digest for 20 Aug 2021


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 This decision should have been made the day that the OTT tax was withdrawn by government.

  • 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.