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CA steps into Eaton, Telkom commercial debt row

The firm’s data and voice services including text and mobile money transfers were interrupted between December 7-13

In Summary

•Eaton, a pan-African tower company, faulted Telkom for failure to remit fees to a tune of Sh255.6 million owed for the period between September-November 2019

•CA noted with concern that the licensees did not handle the matter in line with the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for in the licence conditions on the interruption of services

A Telkom shop in the central business district in Nairobi. /MONICAH MWANGI
A Telkom shop in the central business district in Nairobi. /MONICAH MWANGI

The Communications Authority has instructed Telkom Kenya to resolve the payment dispute between it and Eaton Towers Kenya Limited inorder not to inconvenience customers.

The tower company is demanding an undisclosed amount  from Telkom for the period between September and November. 

The dispute led to interruption of Telkom's voice services, text and mobile money transfer between December 7-13 after Eaton switched off 49 telecommunication sites.

 
 

 The troubles come just as the Telkom and Airtel merger plans received clearance from the  Competition Authority of Kenya.

 

CA said Eaton did not handle the matter in line with the dispute resolution mechanisms provided for in the licence conditions on interruption of services.

‘‘The condition requires a licensee to seek and obtain written approval from the Authority, issue a reasonable advance notice to persons likely to be affected by the interruption or suspension of service,’’ CA said in the directive signed by its Acting Director-General, Mercy Wanjau.

The two parties were directed to follow the established dispute resolution mechanisms in liaison with the Authority, as well as adhere to the Master Tower Agreement signed between them.

This comes at a time when the telco is struggling to make headway to finalise the merger with Airtel Kenya to strengthen the joint entity.

The merger, which was set to be concluded before the end of this year, has now been pushed further with officials remaining mum on exactly when they are looking to finalise the deal.

“We are continuing to engage all the regulators as well as other critical stakeholders in the transaction process to facilitate receipt of the requisite approvals and appropriate conditionalities required to progress the actualisation of the transaction,” the firm said in a statement released on Friday.

 
 
 

The combined entity would create stronger competition for Safaricom, which currently controls 62.4 per cent market share in terms of subscribers.

The Competition Authority's clearance came with a caveat  that the merged entity not sell itself for the next five years, and honour any existing contracts with government bodies.

The Communications Authority is however yet to lift its suspension on the merger pending investigations by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Agency.

EACC ordered a suspension on the merger while the anti-graft body investigated allegations about the misappropriation of public funds at Telkom.