MTN Uganda has been granted a 12-year operation license extension following protracted negotiations with the government, the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) has announced.
As one of the conditions for the new license, MTN has accepted to sell some of its shares to Ugandans through the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).
Wim Vanhellpute, the MTN Uganda Chief Executive Officer (CEO) said during a brief ceremony held at UCC offices in Bugoloobi in Kampala recently that: “We believe this is an opportunity to enhance our relationship with our customers who will also now be able to become owners in this venture,” he said, adding that this will come to pass within the next 24 months.
Vanhellpute said MTN has already paid USD100m for the new license.
UCC’s Acting Executive Director Irene Kaggwa Sewankambo congratulated MTN on the “momentous occasion” while the MTN Uganda CEO Wim Vanhellpute pledged “to deliver a new digital life to everyone, everywhere.”
MTN Uganda was first granted a Second National Operator License for the provision of telecommunications services on 20th October 1998 for a period of 20 years.
The telecom’s license, having expired in October 2018, was followed by protracted negotiations involving the Central Government, UCC and MTN Uganda, culminating in this breakthrough.
In a statement published on its website, UCC says that after a thorough assessment of MTN’s performance over the past 20 years of its license period, it was satisfied that the company had fulfilled most of its obligations and therefore eligible for license renewal.
“Having conducted a performance assessment of MTN Uganda operations over the last 20 years, the Commission came to the conclusion that MTN Uganda had substantially complied with its financial and legal obligations, as well as most of the technical obligations.
Noting that this was the first license under the new licensing framework, UCC Kaggwa Sewankambo congratulated MTN and the Government of Uganda on this milestone and expressed readiness to continue to work with the telecom operator to modernise the communications sector and to provide quality and affordable services to the people of Uganda.
MTN CEO Vanhellpute expressed gratitude to President Museveni, the Government and the Commission for the engaging discussions that led to the license extension.
“We’ve fulfilled our obligations,” he triumphantly declared.
However, Vanhellpute acknowledged that although MTN Uganda has a presence in all the 135 districts of Uganda currently, there is much more to do on the technical side to make the slogan “Everywhere you go” a “scientific reality.”
Below is a summary of terms and conditions, as released by UCC.
The licensee shall ensure that its network extends to, and services are available in at least 90% of the geographical boundary of Uganda within five (5) years from the effective date of the license.
The licensee shall not deny access for licensed services to any subscriber except for non-payment of fees or any other just cause.
The Licensee shall ensure that its services meet the Licensor’s Quality of Service standards and other standards as the Licensor shall determine from time to time.
The Licensee shall comply with all the Laws, Regulations, Guidelines and Standards Issued by the Government of Uganda on health, safety and environment protection.
The Licensee shall provide services adaptable to persons with disabilities across its network.
The Licensee shall ensure that its equipment, facilities, or systems do not damage, interfere or in any way harm the installations, facilities or operations of other Licensees.
The Licensee shall ensure and maintain the confidentiality of all communications that it may obtain in the course of providing a service to a customer or interconnecting to a public network or in the execution of its business.
The Licensee shall interconnect its system(s) with national, public or private telecommunication systems or other licensed operators to deliver locally originated traffic through interconnection agreements, which shall be approved by the Licensor.
The Licensee shall provide national roaming services to requesting telecommunications service providers on terms and services as shall be agreed upon by the parties.
The Licensee shall share its infrastructure with other requesting licensees in designated areas as provided by the Act, Regulations, Government policies, guidelines and directives.
The Licensee shall comply with the sector policy, regulations and guidelines requiring the listing of a portion of its shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange.
The Licensee shall comply with the Act, the Regulations made under the Act, standards, directives, guidelines issued by the Licensor in the public interest, including but not limited to, national development, consumer protection, environment protection, disaster relief services, and security of persons and infrastructure.
Under the terms of the license, the Licensee is authorised, non-exclusively, to establish, install, operate, maintain lease, and sale telecommunications systems and to provide telecommunication services and make available network infrastructure systems to other licensed operators and authorised persons in Uganda.