Vodacom Loses Unified Licence To Operate In Lesotho
Vodacom's operating license in the kingdom of Lesotho has been revoked, according to a notice released by the Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA). The LCA said it had revoked Vodacom's licence because the mobile operator missed the deadline of October 7th to pay a US$500,000 fine. It also accused the operator of failing to outline its internet connectivity provisioning plans - which is allegedly part of its obligation under the unified licensing conditions.
The notification issued by the LCA on Thursday reads in part: "Notice is given of the revocation of the Unified License of Vodacom Lesotho in accordance with section 47 of the Communications Act for failure to comply with the directive to pay a penalty of M40 200 000 by October 7th 2020. This Notice is published in accordance with condition 8 of the Unified License."
The spokesperson for Vodacom Group, Byron Kennedy, commenting on the matter before the licence revocation by the LCA said that "Vodacom Group is aware of regulatory concerns affecting its Lesotho business relating to a perceived conflict of interest and timeous payment of regulatory fees, and has made written communication to the LCA regarding all these concerns and will continue to engage meaningfully with the view to find common ground with the LCA in the interest of our customers, our stakeholders and the broader Lesotho community,"
Industry analysts are however bemused that Vodacom, which has about 1. .2 million mobile subscribers in Lesotho allowed its licence to be revoked. Many believed that the operator should have been more assured and forthcoming in negotiating a settlement with the authorities in Lesotho.
Reports have it that the LCA gave Vodacom plenty of notifications and wiggle room, even offering, at some point that Vodacom Lesotho could pay 30 per cent of the fine immediately and the other 70 per cent with in the next five years (on condition the telco then continue to respect its licence obligations).