Econet fails to block SNO award

18 Jan 2007

Econet Wireless Kenya has failed in its bid to block a licence being granted to the country’s second national operator (SNO). Econet won Kenya’s third GSM concession in October 2003 but has so far failed to launch because of financial and shareholder difficulties. The government invited bids for companies to run the SNO last year, with the Dubai-based Vtel consortium winning with a bid of KES12 billion (USD170 million). Vtel’s concession includes not only wireline and internet services, but also a cellular licence. Econet wanted to halt Vtel’s licence award until it had had an opportunity to launch and build up its own operations, claiming it still has the right to introduce the country’s third GSM network. However, High Court judge Alnashir Visram has blocked Econet’s injunction, commenting: ‘If I were to grant an injunction, it would cause considerable harm to Communications Commission of Kenya, the economy and people of Kenya,’ reports Nairobi newspaper The Nation. The Kenyan cellular market is currently a duopoly between Safaricom and Celtel.