Uganda’s President Surprised That MTN Was Charged Less For Licence Renewal

According to the letter seen by Reuters, the President of Uganda, Yoweri Museveni has been very critical about the telecommunications regulator’s decision to slash MTN Uganda’s fee for renewing its telecoms licence.

Ugandan media reported that the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) had made the decision to charge MTN Uganda, which is a division of South Africa’s MTN Group, $58 million to renew its licence for ten years, instead of the original $100 million charge for the renewal.

MTN Uganda is Uganda’s biggest telecoms operator.

In a letter to the Minister of Communications and the Attorney General dated 19 November and read by Reuters, President Museveni said that he was quite “astonished” by the UCC’s decision to decrease the charge to $58 million.

In a letter in response to the president, dated 14 December, The Minister for Information, Communication, Technology and National Guidance said that the UCC had decided to slash MTN’s fee from $100 million to $58 million after MTN said that it still needed to invest about $200 million in an effort to meet the terms of a new national broadband policy.

The policy orders telecom operators to invest in infrastructure to ensure high-quality voice calls and high-speed data across the country, including rural areas where revenue is low.

MTN Uganda has over 10 million subscribers and competes with India’s Bharti Airtel.

In his 19 November letter, Museveni said that during its 20 years of service MTN Uganda had reaped massive profits, most of which it had repatriated.
He added that the company’s obligation to invest where it intends to profit for the next ten years could not be in doubt.

MTN Uganda’s 20-year license expired last October. The company applied for a 10-year extension, but the UCC only gave it a temporary renewal for 60-days while it awaits the resolution of some issues before a final license is granted.

Ugandan authorities have revealed that MTN agreed to list its shares on Uganda’s local market as a condition that comes with renewing its license although the telecoms company itself has not confirmed this.
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