G-Mobile says numerous cases frustrating investors

Licensed mobile phone service provider G-Mobile says numerous appeals to judgements by the Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) are delaying the company’s roll-out.

G-Mobile director of administration Harold Myaba said on Tuesday the development is frustrating investors who have been waiting for long to roll out the services.

“Last year, the High Court in Zomba, Mzuzu and Blantyre ruled in our favour, but Macra appealed at the Supreme Court of Appeal against the judgements of the lower courts. This is what is delaying our roll-out,” said Myaba.

He said all the necessary network equipment is already in the country  with ZTE.

“Now with the numerous court appeals, the investors are just folding their arms to see what will happen next. But it is frustrating because hey have waited for long,” said Myaba.

G-Mobile, Malawi’s third licensed mobile phone network operator after TNM and Airtel, has been involved in a legal battle with Macra over its failure to roll-out within its set period.

The company was initially supposed to roll out on May 20 2010 and its failure to do so on the date drew the wrath of Macra which slapped the company with a $6.95 million (just above K1 billion) fine. The fine was to be paid within 30 days from May 20.

Of the amount, $6.1 million was for failure to meet quality of service targets and $800 000 (about K12 million) was for failure  to meet roll-out targets.

The High Court in Mzuzu in November 2010 set aside the fines and reprimanded Macra for overstepping its authority and acting

“The decision to impose a fine of $6 955 000 was unconstitutional, ultra vires, unreasonable and invalid to the extent that it is
inconsistent with the Constitution. In the alternative that the respondents decision was unlawful, the declarations sought by the
applicant are granted,” reads part of a ruling made by High Court Judge Lovemore Chikopa on November 12.

The country’s mobile phone operators have on a number of occasions been accused of providing poor quality as well as expensive services by both Macra and politicians.

G-Mobile chief executive officer Peter Davies told reporters in August2010 that the company is expected to inject $175 million (about K26billion) into Malawi.

Once in full operation, the company is expected to create 3 000 jobsfor Malawians.

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