Zain calls for review of licensing costs; buys 3G licence

22 Oct 2009

According to reports by local dailies Daily Nation and The Standard, Zain Kenya has announced that it has successfully acquired a 3G licence. The operator’s managing director, Rene Meza, said: ‘We will be rolling out a 3G network in the first half of next year. The procurement process is already in place.’ With the arrival of submarine cable systems, such as SEACOM and TEAMS, boosting network capacity and bandwidth availability, the demand for data services in Kenya is growing and the country’s cellcos are keen to capitalise. At present the only other operator to hold a 3G concession is market leader Safaricom, which claimed around 1.65 million 3G customers at the end of June 2009. Zain believes that the lack of 3G competition is a result of prohibitive licensing costs, with licences costing USD25 million (KES1.8 billion). Meza added: ‘We have been holding discussions with the regulator, which has agreed to review this price… We hope that the spectrum costs can be reviewed downwards to allow other players to roll out networks.’ In November 2008 Essar Telecom Kenya revealed that it planned to enter the 3G market but is yet to procure a licence.