Minister of Public Enterprises, Leon Jooste, has directed the chairpersons of the feuding Mobile Telecommunications Limited (MTC) and the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) to bury the hatchet for the sake of institutional investors.
MTC and Cran have been at loggerheads over a number of issues, including the issuing of a telecommunications service licence 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), Jooste says his intervention is necessary in the interest of the impeding Initial Public Offering (IPO), and the listing of the MTC shares.
Jooste adds 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 impact on the commercial feasibility of MTC in the post listing period.
Jooste says the process is going very well with 19 November 2021 set as the listing date. “Investors obviously want confidence that strong returns on their investments will be realized,” he adds.
The minister highlights that during a virtual meeting on 12 August to mediate for a sound working relationship, both MTC and Cran presented their cases stating various risk factors between the two entities, prominent among them the issue of the perceived strained relationship between MTC (operator) and Cran (sectoral regulator).
In the letter Jooste also directs that the specific matters that have an impact (direct or indirect) on the commercial viability, the successful IPO of MTC be discussed and appropriate solutions identified. “The two chairpersons must accept accountability for the expected outcomes and report back detailing the strategy within 14 days of this letter. They shall submit two single co-signed letters stating their collective positions,” says Jooste.
Commenting on the poor relationship between the two entities, Jooste says 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. “We have been keeping a keen eye on this and there is no reason to be concerned at all. We had a very productive meeting with the stakeholders last week and agreed on certain measures that will be implemented to ensure that a harmonious professional relationship is maintained,” says he.