The government has short-listed a well known European consultant to guide it on policy revisions aimed at governing the telecommunications industry.
Frontier Economics is expected to act as an arbitrator for the state as it moves to implement new regulations for the telecommunications sector.
In a letter to operators in the mobile sector seen by Business Daily, Information PS Bitange Ndemo said he had chosen the European- based firm rather than earlier suggested American law firms because European laws are closer to Kenya’s.
“We are likely to opt for the EU on account of the fact that the US anti-trust laws are based one extremely different legal principles,” he said.
Frontier Economics is an economics consultancy that specialises in applied microeconomic analysis, including industry regulation, institutional restructuring, private sector participation, competition policy, litigation support and environmental issues.
Frontier was founded in 1999 by a team of highly experienced consulting economists, and has offices in Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, London, Cologne, Madrid and Brussels.
Frontier is said to provide the highest standards in independent and well-founded economic advice for businesses and for public policy makers.
This comes just days after Dr Ndemo was forced to admit that the government needed more time to review laws governing competition in the sector.
“We made a mistake. We need to review the regulations before they are enforced as they could prove detrimental to the industry if enforced as they are,” he said in a speech at the announcement of Safaricom’s annual results.
At the function, a statement circulated stating that the Information Ministry had suspended the regulations pending further consultations with the operators.
But in the letter sent to operators, Dr Ndemo said he had not suspended the regulations.
Safaricom has objected to the new rules, saying they posed a serious business threat and could introduce potentially harmful initiatives such as price controls in the industry.
The suspension elicited concerned responses from Essar, Zain and Telkom Kenya, who view the regulations as timely.
“We would like to express our disappointment in the government concerning the statement made by the PS suspending the new regulations. The industry was taken through a an exhaustive consultation process prior to enactment of the regulations. We are thus surprised that the same government can unilaterally go ahead and suspend the new regulations and without consultations. This is not fair play,” said Atul Chaturvedi, Country Manager, Essar Kenya.
The government says it is committed to implementing the regulations contained in the Fair Competition and Equality of Treatment Regulations 2009 and the Kenya Communications Tariffs Regulations 2009 which are already published.