The High Court of Kenya has reinstated the power of the Communication Authority of Kenya (CA) to manage the competition clause in the telecommunications industry.
The ruling gives the regulatory body in charge of licensing and regulating ICT services in the country the mandate to have more control over the management of competition in a period when the nation is still unsure of whether Safaricom has a lot of say in local telecoms market than it deserves.
This comes after CA hired an independent international consultant called Analysys Mason to probe Kenya’s telecommunication and broadcasting sector on market dominance and anti-competitive conduct in 2016. Findings from the scrutiny, which have not been published officially, yet, did recommend the separation of M-Pesa from Safaricom by end of 2017 – unless the telco agreed to mobile money interoperability. Part of these recommendations were motivated by Safaricom’s independence in setting tariffs that ignore market dynamics. As a result, users have no option but to cough more charges compared to similar solutions in other parts of the globe.
Based on the investigation, rumours started flying around that the CA was going to enforce Mason’s recommendations. However, the regulator dismissed the speculations, citing that it was not going to perform actions that could be ‘detrimental to dominant market players.’
It should be remembered that the CA was stripped of its power to monitor dominance after President Uhuru Kenyatta signed the Miscellaneous Amendment Bill, 2015. The bill directed the CA to consult with the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) and the ICT CS before making decisions about dominance. The bill argued that it wanted to harness decision-making by bringing in experienced bodies to discuss the concern. Of course, the CA forwarded its complaints by stating that too many cooks in the kitchen would overstep boundaries and undermine its independence.
Thanks to the high court’s ruling that occurred during the week, the CA will have its independence back.
Lastly, mobile money interoperability will start in July.