(Ecofin Agency) - The government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has finally decided to revoke mobile operator Vodacom’s 2G license.
According to the telecoms Minister, Emery Okundji, “the ARPTC (Telecoms Regulator, ed) is being asked to proceed within three months with the formalities for the withdrawal of frequencies from Vodacom and to put them on auction.”
As a reminder, the Congolese government has been threatening Vodacom with sanctions since 29 April this year when the operator was accused of getting its license illegally. Minister Okundji says in December 2015, Vodacom extended for ten years its 2G license, which expired on 1 January 2018, although no legal or regulatory provision in the Democratic Republic of Congo allows such process.
The Congolese government accused Vodacom of conspiracy and of taking advantage of ARPTC’s decision granting it additional frequencies to maliciously submit a request for an extension of its 2G license. And under this sham, which, the minister regards as “an act of corruption,” the telecom company paid only $16,250,000 for both additional frequencies and extension process, whereas this amount is only for the allocation of the additional frequencies. The renewal process for the 2G license requires additional $65 million making a total of $81,250,000.
Minister Emery Okundji points out that “the DGRAD (Direction Générale des Recettes Administratives, Judiciaires, Domaniales et de Participations, Ndlr) has been instructed to proceed with the enforced recovery of evaded duties and penalties for the illegal exploitation of telecommunications activities. To date, Vodacom's accounts with banks and its partners have been seized by third-party notices ordered by the DGRAD's main receiver.”
Vodacom has always rejected all these accusations and has taken several legal actions to enforce its rights. The latest was the referral to the Council of State, on 10 June, and verdict is expected today 17 June 2019.