Airtel Uganda issued with NTO concession

18 Dec 2020

Airtel Uganda has been issued with a National Telecom Operator (NTO) licence, the cellco’s parent company Airtel Africa has confirmed. In a press release regarding the development, it was noted that the licence allocation followed ‘a period of negotiation and transition to a new Licensing Regime’.

This new licence – which cost Airtel Uganda USD74.6 million – is effective from 1 July 2020 and is valid for a period of 20 years, while it was noted that the cellco will retain all of its current spectrum holdings, subject to the law and terms of assignment. Meanwhile, with the scope of services under the licence said to be the provision of ‘basic telecommunication services, infrastructure services, and value-added telecommunication services’, Airtel Uganda has reportedly committed to achieving coverage of 90% of the geographical boundary of Uganda within five years of the effective date of the licence.

As previously reported by CommsUpdate, in September 2020 a licensing row broke out related to Airtel Uganda’s concessions. At the time, the company was operating via Public Service Provider (PSP) and Public Infrastructure Provider (PIP) licences issued for USD100,000 in November 2018, but under the Uganda Communications Commission’s (UCC’s) revised licensing structure, Airtel Uganda is covered by the NTO category, which applies to operators with more than 65% nationwide network coverage. As such, rival firms had complained that Airtel Uganda had benefitted from reduced licence fees for its PSP and PIP permits, when it should be paying the much higher NTO fee.