International Finance

New Kenyan law to separate telco’s mobile money business

Kenya Mobile money
The bill is in its first reading in the National Assembly

The Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill 2019, if approved, could force telecom companies in Kenya to split their telecom business from their mobile money units.

The bill is in its first reading in the National Assembly. Once approved, it will force the telecom companies in Kenya such as Safaricom, Airtel, and Telkom Kenya to form separate management for its subsidiaries. The companies will also require to maintain separate accounts.

According to MP Elisha Odhiambo, the new bill would provide for a regulatory framework for such businesses by proving a reporting provision to the Communications Authority (CA) on compliance.

He told the media that, “It gives provisions for penalties for non-compliance. It will aid in the control of anti-competitive practices by the larger industries in the sector.”

According to the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill 2019, the companies will need to apply for fresh licences from the respective regulators after the split. This is in addition to operating a telecommunication system or providing services as may be specified in the licence granted under Section 25 of the Kenya Information and Communication Act.

Last month, the proposed merger between telecom operator Airtel and Telkom Kenya was suspended by Kenya’s Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission. The merger, which was announced in February, was also criticised by the National Assembly. According to the assembly, the merger deal had all the hallmarks of a scandal as it was allowing a public company to be acquired by private interests.

If the Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill 2019 gets approved, it will mean both Airtel and Telkom Kenya will have to split their subsidiaries.

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