Latest reports indicate that Telkom towers have been switched off. The move by American Towers Corporation (ATC) is due to Telkom defaulting on the site leasing fees. The towers shutdown has led to service disruptions on the telco’s network.
Allegedly, media reports indicate Telkom owes ATC about KSH 3.5 billion or 23.8 million USD.
Importantly, this is not the first time Telkom towers have been shut down. Since the end of January, the company has been experiencing network disruptions. In June this, year Mugo Kibati, Chief Executive Officer of Telkom Kenya Limited released a statement acknowledging Telkom’s service outages. This was after public outcry.
Notably, Information, Communication, and the Digital Economy Cabinet Secretary Eliud Owalo was more direct. In his statement to parliament, he blankly stated “We are in a situation where Telkom is unable to pay”
Telkom Towers to Be Reconnected after Payment
ATC Kenya chief executive Thomas Sonesson told the Senate Committee on Information, Communication and Technology that Telkom must pay KES 650m ($4.4m). This payment is to be followed by KES 150m ($1m) in the subsequent 2 months.
These are the conditions the company has set in order to reconnect Telkom Towers.
“To ensure financial viability of our business, we sometimes have to make difficult decisions such as disconnection, which we use as a last resort. However, this is conducted always within the law and the conditions stipulated in our contracts, and following various unsuccessful attempts to recover monies owed to us,” said an ATC spokesperson.
Furthermore, ATC alleges that Telkom has used police officers to block access to Telkom tower sites. As some of the tower sites are shared, ATC alleges the action disrupted the services of other operators.
Currently, the government of Kenya fully owns Telkom. However, it has actively been on the hunt for an investor who can take on the KSH 7.2 billion debt. The debt is currently sinking the company.
As an alternative, the government may look to the National Treasury to bail out Telkom with funds from public coffers.