MTN Uganda withdraws call block threat

MTN Uganda has withdrawn its threat to block connections to rival Uganda Telecom over unpaid interconnect fees

MTN Uganda has withdrawn its threat to block connections to rival Uganda Telecom over unpaid interconnect feesMTN Uganda has withdrawn its threat to stop connecting calls to rival network Uganda Telecom (UTL) over unpaid connection fees. Communications Minister Aggry Awori said that the government, which holds a 37 per cent stake in UTL, had intervened to broker an agreement between the parties and avoid disrupting services to end users.

MTN Uganda has in excess of six million subscribers, making it the largest operator in the country. Last week, it claimed that UTL owed it 20bn Ugandan shillings ($8.6m) in unpaid connection fees that had accumulated since 2008. The telco was threatening to block all calls to and from Uganda Telecoms from the 14th of March if the outstanding bill wasn’t settled.

Last week, MTN Uganda issued a statement saying that “Uganda Telecom Ltd has unjustifiably and persistently refused to honour their business obligation and attempts to resolve the matter of outstanding unpaid dues, thus forcing us to take this unavoidable step,” adding that it believed that continuation of its agreement with UTL was “a business risk as debt continued to grow unabated.”

UTL is contesting the bill, telling Reuters that the outstanding debt is in fact 6.2bn shillings and that while the sum was being contested in court, “the rest of the money is just a matter of reconciliation between us.”  It has also been in dispute with Airtel Uganda and Warid Telecom over unpaid termination fees.

Uganda Telecom has over 2.6 million subscribers and is 63 per cent owned by the Libya Africa Portfolio, or LAP Green Network, which is a Libyan foreign investment vehicle that also holds stakes in Sonitel Niger and Rwandatel in Rwanda. East Africa’s telecoms sector is currently undergoing significant expansion, driven in large part by rural market penetration.

East Africa Com takes place April 5-6 in Kenya. Speakers include John Barorot, CTO, Safaricom

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