Vodacom Congo denies licence renewal allegations

Vodacom Congo denies license renewal allegations

Network operator responds to claims it underpaid authorities when it secured its 2G license in 2015.

Telecoms operator Vodacom has refuted the allegation it underpaid the government in the renewal of its 2G license.

A statement issued by the company reads: "As a citizen company, compliant with the laws and regulations of the Republic, Vodacom Congo has obtained in a regulatory way the extension of the duration of its 2G license in accordance with the laws and regulations in force in 2015 and vigorously refutes all the allegations of fraud unduly spread over the press."

It has been alleged that in 2015 Vodacom secured a 10-year renewal of its 2G license in the DRC for US$16.25-million.

The operator claimed the sum also covered acquisition of additional spectrum in the 1800 MHz band.

However, local tax authorities have said he sum paid only covered the extra spectrum and not the license extension.

The country's current administration has requested the company to pay US$30-million for the renewal and said the previous government failed to accurately enforce the law.

In response Vodacom said it had followed due process in renewing its license in 2015, adding that the government's decision unfairly and retroactively applies rules that were adopted in 2016.

According to the network operator when it began operations in the DRC in 1998 it secured a 2G license from the government for a period of 20 years for an initial payment equivalent to US$2-million.

It added that the license was subsequently amended on 11 December 2001 to couple two operations: a frequency spectrum acquisition and the modification of the shareholding.

"The payment of the single roll-up fee obtained had been paid at that time in accordance with the regulations in force," the operator stated.

In December 2015, Vodacom said the same license was amended, coupling two operations: a 10-year extension of the license term and an acquisition of additional frequencies in the 1800 MHz band.

Here too, the operator said it paid a single roll-up fee of 25% of the value of the license to the State Treasury amounting to US$16,250,000.

"All payments were made in due form; they are discharged within the meaning of the law and cannot be disputed or challenged to date," Vodacom stated.