Uganda to require telecoms firms to list on local bourse
* Move aimed at mitigating capital flight
* Cabinet also agrees to extend MTN's operating licence
* Not clear if extension is conditional on new rules
(Adds MTN comment in paragraphs 12-13)
By Elias Biryabarema
KAMPALA, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Uganda will introduce a
requirement for all telecoms firms to list shares on the local
bourse as a condition for obtaining a licence to operate in the
country, a government statement said on Tuesday.
The statement on resolutions agreed at a cabinet meeting
said the move would "help mitigate capital flight, among other
Outlining a series of changes for the telecoms industry, the
statement also said the cabinet agreed at a meeting on Monday to
renew the operating licence of the local unit of South African
telecom company MTN Group.
However, it was not immediately clear whether that was
conditional on the new requirements for operators.
The new policy will also bar operators from selling their
allocated spectrum in any merger or acquisition deal.
"No operator whenever selling its stake through 'mergers and
acquisitions' should ever have a claim on spectrum," the
statement said, adding the measure was to preclude the hoarding
of spectrum by some operators.
Under the new plans, customers will also be allowed to
switch providers without changing their numbers. Currently, this
is not possible in the country, and customers have long
complained this effectively tied them to a provider.
MTN Uganda is the east African country's biggest telecoms
firm with more than 10 million subscribers and competes with a
local unit of India's Bharti Airtel, as well as
MTN launched in Uganda in 1998 after acquiring a 20-year
operating licence which was due to expire this year.
The sector regulator, the Uganda Communications Commission
(UCC), has been reviewing its application for a 10-year
extension since last year.
Last month, the UCC told Reuters it was asking MTN to agree
to list its shares on the local stock exchange as a condition
for the renewal.
In a statement emailed to Reuters, MTN said it was yet to
receive a formal communication on the extension of its license
and was also not aware whether the renewal would require a
"If any additional conditions are proposed, including
listing, they would have to be discussed," the telecoms company
MTN Uganda has faced criticism on social media platforms
such as Twitter and Facebook from some subscribers about data
bundles getting used up quickly and the firm not responding to
Uganda's telecoms sector has expanded rapidly over the last
decade, but analysts say a new tax on social media use could
reverse some of those gains by hitting investment.
(Additional reporting by Joe Bavier in Johannesburg; Editing by
Mark Potter and Adrian Croft)
First Published: 2018-09-18 13:16:16
Updated 2018-09-18 18:00:26
© 2018 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved. Reuters content is the intellectual property of Thomson Reuters or its third party content providers. Any copying, republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Thomson Reuters. Thomson Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon. "Reuters" and the Reuters Logo are trademarks of Thomson Reuters and its affiliated companies.