CRAN and MTC bury hatchet on levies

Tujoromajo Kasuto

The Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) reached a settlement agreement, ending a 10-year legal dispute on the legality of regulatory levies for the period 31 March 2016 to 11 June 2018.

MTC and certain industry players challenged Section 23 of the Communications Act (No. 8 of 2009) in the High Court was approached in 2012 to determine the constitutionality of the regulatory levies as enforced by CRAN.

The parties have been engaged in negotiations over an extensive period and CRAN has now announced that the matter is now settled amicably. Consequently, the parties also agreed to withdraw all cases pending between them in the High Court.

“The settlement agreement is a pivotal step in restoring a harmonious working relationship between our two institutions, for the benefit of ICT consumers. Additionally, it has brought to an end a long,

protracted and expensive litigation process. We are particularly pleased that we can now jointly focus on promoting technological innovation and the deployment of advanced facilities and services in order to support the social and economic growth of Namibia,” stated Emilia Nghikembua, Chief Executive Officer, CRAN.

MTC and CRAN have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, including the issuing of a telecommunications service license to the City of Windhoek in 2020, which MTC labelled as ‘anti-competitive’ and against the Communications Act and the Competitions Act. CRAN on the other hand claimed that MTC owed the regulator N$300 million in unpaid service levies, a claim MTC refuted.

In a 16 August letter copied to the Director General of the National Planning Commission (NPC), Minister of Finance and the Minister of Information and Telecommunication Technology (MICT), the former Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, had intervened in the interest of the Initial Public Offering (IPO), and the listing of the MTC shares.

Jooste added that institutional investors, who form the largest component of the investor spread, shared concern that the perceived strained working relationship between the two entities had the potential to negatively impacting on the commercial feasibility of MTC in the post listing period.

“Investors obviously want confidence that strong returns on their investments will be realized,” he added in the November 2021 communication.

In the letter Jooste directed that the specific matters that have an impact (direct or indirect) on the commercial viability, to the successful IPO of MTC be discussed and appropriate solutions identified.

Commenting on the poor relationship between the two entities, Jooste said some form of friction between regulators and dominant players in the ICT sector is actually very common globally and there are mature processes in place to deal with these as they arise.

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