MTN Uganda secures 12-year licence renewal after paying $100m fee

3rd July 2020 By: John Muchira - Creamer Media Correspondent

Telecoms giant MTN Uganda has resolved a protracted dispute with the Uganda government, a development that will see its operating licence renewed for 12 years.

The company announced the conclusion of negotiations with the Uganda government for the renewal of its second national operator licence, which expired in October 2018 but has been on ice over disagreements on licence fees and taxes.

“MTN has fulfilled all conditions precedent to the licence, including the payment of a total sum of $100-million as a licence renewal fee for a period of 12 years, commencing July 1, 2020,” said the company in a statement.

MTN has been in licence renewal negotiations with authorities in the East African nation for about two years, after its 20-year licence expired in October 2018 but was variously extended to accommodate the conclusion of the negotiations.

MTN Uganda’s struggle to renew its licence began after Uganda President Yoweri Museveni criticised the Uganda Communications Commission (UCC) for offering MTN Uganda a ten-year licence for “half the fee”.

The UCC fee was set on the understanding that the company had committed to investing about $200-million in the country.

Uganda has also been pushing MTN to list at least 20% of its shareholding on the Uganda Securities Exchange to offer Ugandans an opportunity to own part of the company, a subsidiary of the Johannesburg-listed MTN Group.

MTN Uganda is the largest telecoms company in Uganda, with its 12.6-million subscribers equating to a 55% market share.