WASHINGTON D.C. —
The Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) has cancelled Telecel Zimbabwe’s operating licence following the firm’s failure to pay $137.5 million in licence fees.
This follows the government’s move two months ago to cancel an agreement it had with Telecel allowing the company to operate without paying the fees to renew its operating licence. The cancellation was effective April 28th.
Telecel says the move by POTRAZ is unfair, adding it will appeal the decision and do everything it can both locally and internationally to continue operating.
Potraz on Wednesday said it had given Telecel, Zimbabwe third biggest mobile operator, a special 30-day dispensation to continue providing telecommunications services to its two million subscribers as it winds down its operations.
“In order to facilitate the smooth switch of the Telecel Zimbabwe network as well as ensuring that disruption is minimized, POTRAZ concurrently issued a special licence to Telecel to continue providing telecommunications services for a period of 30 days,” said POTRAZ.
“During this period, it is expected that Telecel Zimbabwe subscribers switch to alternative networks and those with credits on the Telecash Mobile money platform would make good their position.”
But in its own statement, Telecel said: “This measure is unfair and unwarranted. Telecel has made every effort to comply with all legal and governmental requirements in Zimbabwe, and objects to this treatment in the strongest terms.”
The company said it is taking immediate action both locally and internationally to challenge the decision by POTRAZ to cancel its licence.
“Telecel would like to assure its customers and stakeholders that it will take all possible steps to maintain the full range of its services throughout this process,” the firm said.
Telecel was given another 60 days by POTRAZ after switching off to decommission their equipment.
“A further 60 days has been given to Telecel Zimbabwe to decommission their telecommunication equipment.
“It should be underlined that the telecommunication equipment remains Telecel Zimbabwe’s property. It is up to Telecel Zimbabwe to decide what to do with the equipment,” said POTRAZ.
Potraz said Telecel could appeal against the licence cancellation to the Minister of ICT, Postal and Courier Services.