A few weeks ago, we told you Airtel Kenya was yet to renew its license with the Communication Authority of Kenya. Airtel Kenya is currently using the license issued to Essar Telekom YU, whose operating license and subscribers it acquired. Airtel Kenya was first issued with the license in 2000 for 15 years, when it launched operations locally as Kencell. The company has over the years changed ownership and subsequently re-branded as Celtel, then Zain and now Airtel Kenya. Communication Authority charges a renewal license fee of Kshs. 2.3 Billion, Kshs. 30.2 million for initial annual operating fees, outstanding frequency fees of Kshs. 24.9 million and a penalty payment of Kshs. 1.5 million from Airtel.
The Communication Authority of Kenya board has been reviewing certain factors including whether Airtel Kenya can continue to use YU’s license in its operation. According to Communication Authority of Kenya Director General Francis Wangusi, the board is reviewing factors such as if Airtel needs to renew both licenses and if the use of the continued use of the license complies with law. “At the moment, Airtel is safe but the board is reviewing all factors to ensure fairness to all players, with the decision set to be made soon”, he added.
When previously responding to questions by Techweez, the Authority said Airtel acquired both the subscribers and licenses from Essar Telekom with local operations of YU limited to a brand locally and not as a service provider thus putting the questions of legality aside.