Namibia is expected to open the tender for its second mobile licence later this week, bringing to an end several years of delays in the licensing process. The cellular sector was due to be opened up to competition in 2001 but the regulator, the Namibia Communications Commission (NCC), dragged its heels over the appointment of external consultants to act as advisors; the contract was eventually awarded to Deutsche Telepost Consulting (DeTeCon) in December. Last week’s meeting scheduled by the NCC for DeTeCon to invite local and international tenders was cancelled as the Cabinet had not been briefed on the process, but has since been rescheduled to take place on Thursday. South African operators MTN and Vodacom have both expressed an interest in acquiring the concession.
As its stands Namibia is home to just one mobile operator, Mobile Telecommunications Commission (MTC), which is majority owned by Namibia Post and Telecommunications Holdings, but Sweden’s TeliaSonera and Swedfund International also hold significant stakes. In recent years MTC has faced growing criticism over the deteriorating quality of its services and as a result the NCC has come under pressure to hasten the liberalisation of the mobile market in the hope that competition will lead to an improved standard of service. The creation of a second cellular licensee will also create jobs in Namibia and boost cellular penetration, which at the end of 2002 stood at just 8.3%.