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CCK acts on Kenya PM tariff order

NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 1 – The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) has initiated a study to review the current mobile telephony rates, in an effort to cut down cross-network tariffs.

This follows a directive issued by Prime Minister Raila Odinga to reduce interconnection charges.

CCK Director General Charles Njoroge however said any decision would be based on the market forces to ensure fair play in the industry.
"It has to be rational, based on some base lines and that\’s the way we do business at the Commission," he stressed.

Mr Njoroge said the study would be complete by March 2010, after which CCK would announce by how much prices can be lowered.

Information Permanent Secretary Bitange Ndemo has in the meantime said that no operator was opposed to the lowering of interconnection charges.

"They are all in support of lowering that cost if need be, but they need clear justification of why they should lower their charges," he said.

Dr Ndemo maintained that CCK was an independent institution that should be allowed to carry out its core mandate without pressure from government.

"Technically, the regulator is independent and cannot be dictated to. They are however open for dialogue and have taken the recommendations of the Prime Minister seriously and are seeing how best to implement the same."

One of the fears by mobile operators is that lowering interconnectivity charges may impact on their business. Mr Njoroge however said they would hold wide consultations with the operators to come up with common grounds to work in.

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The two were speaking when announcing the postponement of a stakeholders\’ forum on the Kenya Communications regulations which were due to commence on Wednesday.

The PS said they had received numerous requests to allow for wider consultations to ensure regulations are of international standards. The forum is now slated for November 18 through to the 19th.

"Government\’s role is to facilitate the private sector not to curtail its operations," Dr Ndemo said adding that they would work closely with the private sector to come up with resolutions.

The CCK Director General could not pinpoint areas of disconnect saying there were diverse regulations which all needed to be put to the public for discussion.

He said there were over ten set of regulations ranging from tariff, courier, broadcast to electronic commerce.

"Some sections are straight forward, others require consensus, while others require harmonisation. We just want to make sure all players are in agreement on the way forward."

He said the major concern for CCK, as the industry regulator, was ensure the telecommunications sector attracts further investment that ultimately leads to growth.

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