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Safaricom suffers major blow

Mobile service provider Safaricom has suffered a major blow after it lost an application seeking to block a Canadian rival from connecting to its network citing risks of illegal international calls routed through local numbers.

The Communications and Multimedia Appeals Tribunal threw out Safaricom’s appeal saying it lacked merit.

“It is therefore our unanimous finding that the appeal lacks merit and the same stands dismissed. There will be no orders as to costs”, the Tribunal ruled.

In the appeal Safaricom was challenging the decision made by the Communications Authority of Kenya(CAK) on April 13, 2021, directing them to commence and conclude interconnection negotiations with Irestel Kenya.

The Tribunal noted that having signed the agreement, Safaricom’s appeal had been overtaken by events, and the parties can therefore only be bound by the terms of the agreement.

It added that if Safaricom’ would find that there is any breach of the agreement, then it can invoke the relevant provisions as per the agreement.

“This tribunal cannot delve into the terms of the particular agreement. The less we say about it the better”, the tribunal added.

Safaricom alleged that the decision ought to have been reached after addressing all the concerns raised and the alleged concerns had to do with Iristel Kenya Limited.

The concerns were that the shareholding of the Iristel Kenya ltd was entirely foreign, being a Canadian Company.

The company argued that Iristel Kenya ltd did not have an existing customer base in its network, neither did it indicate the product it would offer and there was a risk that the firm would engage in sim boxing thus causing a danger to national security.

Communication Authority of Kenya opposed Safaricom’s appeal through Matano Ndaro, told Court that the regulator had carried out independent investigations and responded to their concerns following a request from Safaricom.

“CAK carried out its independent investigations of the alleged issues and on April 13, 2021, responded to Safaricom appropriately and adequately on the said issues,” he stated in an affidavit.

He added that CAK had considered the operations of the Canadian firm and issued it with a licence to provide services in Kenya and by virtue of its authority had vetted the shareholding of the firm and found it to be in conformity with the Regulations.

He added that the regulator had inspected Iristel’s facilities and its business plan and was satisfied that the services is intended to provide were within its licence.

The regulator said the company was already interconnected with other operators and no issues or concerns had arisen.

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