South African-backed cellco Vodacom Congo has issued a statement refuting allegations of fraud relating to the extension of its 2G licence. Ministers have accused the company of underpaying for the renewal in 2015, claiming that the USD16.25 million paid by the cellco only covered the allocation of an extra 6MHz of 1800MHz GSMspectrum, and that a ten-year extension of its existing concessions was not included. The government has demanded a fee of USD30 million for the licence renewal, threatening to strip the operator of the concession if it does not comply with the order.
Vodacom, for its part, argued that a licence amendment in December 2015 coupled a ten-year extension of its licence and an allocation of extra spectrum, for which it paid a single fee of USD16.25 million, based on 25% of the initial cost of the licence. A subsequent inter-ministerial order fixed the rates of duties, taxes and fees to be collected by the Ministry of Post, Telecom and New ICT (MINPTNTIC) in July 2016, whilst a further update in November 2017 established standards for licence renewals. As such, Vodacom argues that it complied with regulations as they stood at the time of its renewal and the government is seeking to apply the more recent regulations retroactively.