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Safaricom contests new Kenya rules

NAIROBI, Kenya, May 5 – Telecommunications giant Safaricom has initiated dialogue with the government to seek consensus on the disputed Kenya Information and Communication regulations of 2010.

Chief Executive Officer Michael Joseph told Capital Business that the government should not try to control the firm as it has not abused its position as a dominant player in the market.

“What they are trying to do is to control our business just because we are successful. So our next course of action is to challenge this, to fight this as much as we can until we can get the changes made in the regulations that we believe are fair,” he said.

He maintained that all four operators have been operating on a level playing field with no dispensation given to Safaricom.

On Tuesday, The Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) maintained that the recently gazetted regulations are meant to even out the playing field for all operators in the telecommunications sector, an assertion that Mr Joseph disagrees with.

“We don’t want to go to court; that is the last resort but if we have to, we will do that.But first of all we are trying to talk to the Ministry (Information), the CCK, politicians that are responsible here to look at the legislations, try negotiations and dialogue to have them modified so that they become fairer,” Mr Joseph added.

Part of the regulations require a licensed operator who wishes to review any of their tariffs or introduce a new one to submit an application to CCK three months and seven days respectively before effecting them which will give its competitors an edge.

This is because the regulator will either reject or approve the application in which case it would then gazette such information or publish it in the local dailies. After looking at the current regulated tariff, CCK can call for their withdrawal and the operators would not be able to challenge such as decision.

“This is like saying we publicise our tariffs, our promotions well in advance which can make our competitors take advantage of that and we have to wait to see if we get the approvals or not,” he said.

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He is however hopeful that they have ample time to negotiate and has expressed confidence that an amicable settlement will be reached.

While acknowledging that these laws will impact them negatively, he remained guided on how that would affect their revenues of the publicly listed firm.

“Safaricom is owned by more than 800,000 Kenyans and on their behalf and that of our investors and my staff I will fight this,” he stressed.

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