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Is the dominant player wary of competition?/FILE

Kenya

Safaricom asked to stop interfering with the Airtel-Telkom merger

Is the dominant player wary of competition?/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 3 – Kenya’s largest telco Safaricom has been asked to stop interfering and trying to delay the ongoing merger between Airtel-Telkom merger.

Telkom Kenya Chief Executive Mugo Kibati says Safaricom is trying to deny Kenyans the chance to have choice and better services.

“The presence of a strong second player is bound to give Kenyans value for their money. We only want to establish a healthy thriving telcom sector that gives Kenyans choice,” Kibati told the media from Nairobi.

Kibati said the absence of competition in the market owing to Safaricom’s dominance has posed systemic risks, price increases and a stunted telco market leaving consumers with little to no choice.

“We are simply trying to restructure and improve our own business. Is the dominant player wary of competition?” Kibati wondered.

Last week, Safaricom CEO Michael Joseph said he had reservations about the proposed merger saying the company had presented its queries to the Communications Authority.

“We have our own reservations about the merger, and we have submitted these to the regulator,” Joseph said, “I cannot divulge the details because the matter is between us and the CA.”

Should the merger get the necessary approval, the entity, ‘Airtel-Telkom’, will create a stronger challenger to Safaricom’s 65 percent market share that has curbed competition.

As of March, Telkom accounted for 7.9 percent of the country’s mobile telecom subscribers, behind Airtel’s 26.1 percent which ranks second.

Kibati also said that the two entities have complied with Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) investigations and given them the information they are looking for.

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This is after the EACC opened an inquiring into how the deal had been brokered.

At the same time, Kibati said Telkom Kenya employees will have to reapply for their jobs afresh once the merger between the telco and Airtel is approved.

Kibati said the company will advertise and interview its employees for new positions in the combined entity and its outsourced partners.

This comes weeks after the company said it was laying off at least 575 employees on account of redundancy.

“The intended retrenchment is a precursor to an exercise of engage most of the employees of Telkom into the new entity,” Kibati said.

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