GSM auction turns into one-horse race

2 Sep 2004

Just two companies have come forward to apply for the second GSM licence which is being offered by the Namibian government. To make matters worse for the authorities in Windhoek, which had been expecting a large response after receiving a lot of initial interest, one of these bids appears to have failed to meet the minimum asking price.

Although 24 companies actually showed an interest in the concession, ZDE of China and a consortium comprising Namibian electricity company NamPower and Norwegian telco Telenor were the only two groups to make firm applications. Local press reports suggest that ZDE’s bid has failed to meet at least two requirements.

If the NamPower-Telenor bid is successful then it will leave two state companies competing for cellular subscribers; the current monopoly provider, Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), is once again wholly owned by the Namibian government, following a decision earlier this year by the Swedish investors Telia and Swedfund to sell their joint 49% stake back to the state. MTC had 200,000 customers at the end of 2003, up from 150,000 a year earlier.