Rivals deny Africell interconnection after pricing bust-up

13 Nov 2012

According to a report by RadioOkapi.net, Africell – the Democratic Republic of Congo’s newest mobile operator – has found itself frozen out by its rivals Vodacom, Oasis (Tigo) and Airtel, all of whom have terminated their respective interconnection agreements with the newcomer over a pricing-related dispute. The move, which took place on 8 November, has been criticised by Africell president Mbayo Lufunga Pelesa, who has denounced it as being in violation of the Telecommunications Act. It is believed that the trio objected to a certain promotion introduced by Africell, which promises free on-net calls. Telecoms minister Kin-Key Mulumba has now waded into the debate, and hopes to organise a summit between the feuding parties. He commented: ‘The law is clear, they must cooperate. Those who refuse to cooperate will be struck [off]. I think dialogue is the first track’.

According to TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, despite holding frequencies in the 1800MHz and 900MHz spectrum bands since at least October 2010, Africell DRC, a unit of Lebanese firm company Lintel Holding, staged a press conference to mark its receipt of a formal operating licence in June this year. The cellco is expected to embark on a three-tiered rollout; the first stage will encompass Kinshasa and the provinces of Bandundu, Bas-Congo and Katanga, followed by a second phase rollout in the provinces of Kasai-Occidental and Kasai-Oriental. The third and final batch of deployments will take in Maniema, Equateur, Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu. Africell was expected to inaugurate its network on a commercial basis in July 2012, but by the end of that month no announcement had been forthcoming in the local press. It was later revealed that the first call had been placed over the cellco’s network on 12 July.

Congo, Dem. Rep., Africell DRC, Airtel DRC, Tigo DRC, Vodacom Congo (DRC)