Court finally awards third wireless licence

12 Mar 2004

Econet Wireless International (EWI) has had its mobile licence ratified by the Kenyan High Court, after months of political and legal wrangling. The licence, which EWI won through a competitive bidding process in September 2003, had been set aside following a court challenge by the Kenya Telecommunications Investment Group (KTI), which had submitted a rival bid. With KTI failing to convince the court of its case, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) is expected to formally hand over the concession in May.

EWI began its play for the third licence in February last year when the CCK formally opened the tender for the GSM900-1800 concession. All interested parties were required to pre-qualify by June, though it took until August for four companies to be put on the shortlist. The quartet, made up of EWI, KTI, Netherlands-based Mobile Systems International Investment Holdings and a consortium comprising Telsar Solutions and Telecel International, had to wait until December for the result. When it came EWI was pronounced the winner with its bid of USD27 million, more than twice that of its closest rival. Shortly after the announcement, however, KTI Group launched a legal challenge claiming the bidding process was unfair.

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