Newly-elected President Felix Tshisekedi has instructed the government to report on a widely criticised deal with African General Investment Limited (AGI) that gave the company rights to ‘control in a sustainable and permanent way: the volume of local calls, the volume of SMS sent and received [and] the volume of data declared by telecom operators’. Local reports differ on Mr Tshisekedi’s instructions, and with no official notification from the government it remains unclear whether the President has revoked the contract and the associated legislation, or simply called for an investigation into the matter. The ten-year contract with AGI was awarded without tender and was intended to clamp down on fraud and tax evasion in the sector by monitoring and controlling traffic.
Alongside the contract, the Ministry of Post, Telecommunications and New Information and Communication Technologies (Ministre des Postes, Telecommunications et Nouvelles Technologies de l’Information et de Communication, MINPTNTIC) imposed a new tax in Q4 2018, charging USD0.0115 per minute or outgoing calls, USD0.01 per outgoing SMS and 5% of gross revenue generated by data services. 85% of the turnover from the new levy would go to AGI, whilst the regulator would receive 10% and the remaining 5% to a commission comprising several councillors, the PM and the ministers for finance and telecoms. In addition to a lack of transparency in issuing the contract, questions have also been raised regarding AGI’s legitimacy, leading to accusations that AGI was established as a front to syphon funds from the sector.
According to Kinshasa-based news outlet DeskEco, the AGI contract was signed in January 2018, whilst the payment and taxation scheme were outlined in a December 2018 decree that would come into effect once the new traffic monitoring system was in place.