South Africa’s second national operator (SNO) will receive its operating licence in November, according to the head of the Independent Communications Authority South Africa (ICASA). ‘The licence will be issued by the end of November at the outside. We are hoping to get it done before then,’ ICASA chief Peter Hlapolosa told Reuters. SNO shareholders have already stated that the company is ready for launch as soon as it receives the concession and Eskom Enterprise Division, one of six investors, says it is confident that the telco will have customers making calls over its network by Christmas.
South Africa’s fixed line market it currently dominated by Telkom SA and the government is keen to introduce a competitor, but its attempts to launch an SNO have dragged on for years. It eventually approved the operator’s shareholders in January, but it was not until March that the six parties finally sat down to formulate a business plan after black empowerment group Nexus Connexion, which owns a 19% stake in the venture, withdrew its application for a judicial review into the licensing process. Nexus had applied for the injunction over concerns that the Telecoms Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri had exceeded her authority in awarding shares in the SNO to Two Consortium and CommuniTel. Both groups had come up short in their applications for a controlling stake in the new operator but were nonetheless awarded 12.5% each in the SNO. India’s Tata Group is a strategic equity partner in the business.