Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Malawi cancels GAIN's Licence

The Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (MACRA) has said it has revoked the wireless licence of Global Advanced Integrated Networks (GAIN), which intended to provide services under the G-Mobile banner.

According to local news source Nyasa Times, the cellco’s concession was withdrawn because of its failure to meet specific rollout targets stipulated under the terms of its licence. GAIN was awarded Malawi’s third mobile licence in July 2008.

The cellco received an extension to its network rollout deadline in March 2010, after it admitted that it would not be able to meet the original condition of its licence to rollout by end-2009. After the operator failed to meet the new deadline of 12 April 2010, the local press reported that MACRA had started the process to revoke GAIN’s concession.

Reacting to MACRA’s decision to withdraw GAIN’s licence, the firm’s lawyer Ralph Kasambara said the regulator acted in contempt of court, because the matter is undergoing judicial review.  On 20 May 2010 GAIN was given 30 days to pay a USD6.9 million fine issued by regulator MACRA for failing to deploy its wireless network.

However, the cellco took the matter to the High Court in Mzuzu and gained an injunction against the penalty until a judicial review could be carried out. Since then, GAIN said it has begun to deploy its infrastructure; the cellco partnered Telkom Management Services of South Africa to help it plan and deploy a network and said it was using ZTE of China as an equipment supplier.

In August the company announced that it would invest USD150 million in the next three years and earlier this month revealed that South African private equity investor Musa Capital would invest around USD30 million in the firm. Musa Capital owns 50% of South Africa’s Beryl Telecoms, which holds the majority stake in GAIN.

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