Airtel Kenya To Pay KES 2 Billion For License Renewal

Airtel Kenya CEO
Airtel Kenya CEO, PD Sarma

Airtel Kenya is going to pay 2 billion to the Communications Authority, for the regulatory body to withdraw a case against them. The 7-year-old case has gone on since after Airtel acquired rival mobile operator yuMobile’s spectrum and frequencies. The authority has for all this while demanded that Airtel pay a separate KES 2.15 billion, a move the telco insists it had not expected.

Airtel Kenya To Pay KES 2 Billion For License Renewal

The current operating license used by Airtel is the one they bought out from Essar (yuMobile), and it expires on January 27, 2025. Initially, Airtel says the Communications Authority(CA) had agreed to merge their operating license with the one acquired from yuMobile. However, according to the firm, CA changed its position later. They demanded Airtel give more even after the KES 752 million spent on yuMobile.

“I am glad to report that we struck a deal, and this is a major achievement for us… Taxpayers are guaranteed to receive about Sh2 billion in the next two years. They came up with a payment plan, which we agreed on.” CA director-general Ezra Chiloba in an interview.

Separately, Airtel is barred from talks to get a waiver from the Ministry of ICT licensing policy. The policy instituted in 2021 by Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru requires that tech firms in Kenya sell 30% of their stake to local investors. This requirement has to be fulfilled latest March 2024.

Once Airtel pays the first installment of the KES 2.15 Billion amount this week, the Communications Authority will file for withdrawal of the long-standing case. Only after that will Airtel be able to negotiate with the State on an exemption from that shareholding rule.

Airtel Kenya has not made profit since its launch in 1999. Just a year ago, their loses stood at KES 5.9 billion, a period where rival Safaricom’s net profit was KES 68.8 billion.

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