Companies

Tribunal halts CA’s order to Safaricom in customer row

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Safaricom Limited's headquarters, Nairobi. PHOTO FILE | NMG

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Summary

  • Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal agreed with the country’s largest telco that the customer – Homeland Group – must address issues Safaricom raised before finalising the interconnection agreement.
  • The CA had in January last year directed Safaricom to conclude the agreement within two weeks.

A tribunal has suspended a Communications Authority of Kenya (CA) directive requiring Safaricom to connect calls to a customer who has been waiting for the services since 2016.

Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal agreed with the country’s largest telco that the customer – Homeland Group – must address issues Safaricom raised before finalising the interconnection agreement.

The CA had in January last year directed Safaricom to conclude the agreement within two weeks.

“The appellant (Safaricom) is justified to rely on the doctrine of legitimate expectation. The respondent (CA) was under a duty to address all the outstanding issues they had raised concerning the interested party before the directive to conclude an interconnection agreement within two weeks was issued,” said tribunal chairperson Rosemary Kuria.

Safaricom had raised concerns regarding the business model and subscriber base of the firm associated with ex-MP Joe Mutambu.

The concerns revolved around the clauses in the Kenya Information and Communications Act on interconnection and the provision of fixed lines, access and facilities and regulations on SIM cards registration.

Safaricom said it carried out due diligence in April 2016 after the firm made the application and noted that the company did not have a pre-existing on-net customer base and its initial traffic forecast was untenable.

The tribunal further heard that Homeland Group had provided inflated figures on traffic projection and the company did not have a marketing campaign.

Besides, Safaricom said the company’s business model was to commence operations using Voice Over Internet Protocol and therefore did not require an external connection. The company, the telco added, did not have customer onboarding plans.

“The appellant is exempted from interconnection with the interested party until all the concerns raised by the appellant are addressed satisfactorily and in adherence to the law,” said Ms Kuria.