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Africell Owes NATCOM US$ 500,000


Africell Owes NATCOM US$ 500,000

One of the leading GSM operators, Africell Sierra Leone owes the national telecoms regulator, NATCOM (National Telecommunications Commission ) the sum of US$ 500,000 (Five hundred thousand United States dollars) in unpaid regulatory fees.
Eventhough the company is refusing to pay NATCOM, it is seeking clearance from the regulatory body and some senior Government officials to enable the management to remit the sum of US$ 10M (Ten Million United States dollars) to their foreign suppliers. NATCOM officials are furious that the company has blatantly refused to meet its obligation to the regulatory body.
Meanwhile, Africell has been accused of unfair competition, for failing to comply with a key regulation announced by NATCOM. The company has refused to adopt the new billing platform of Leones per Second in place of Unit per Minute.
All GSM and CDMA operators have complied with the new regulation except Africell. Even the new entrant into the telecoms sector, Smart Mobile are billing their subscribers in Leones per Second, as dictated by law.
The failure by NATCOM to rein-in Africell has been roundly condemned by other telecoms operators who have accused the regulatory body of failing to create a level – playing field for all operators. The management of Africell have been accused of using political connections to flout statutory regulations.
“The Lebanese Chief Executive Officer of Africell is playing politics in order to ride rough shod over NATCOM”, commented a senior official in the Ministry of Information and Communications.
A spokesman for Africell declined to comment last night saying that he had no authority to comment on the issue.
A NATCOM spokesman confirmed that Africell is in default of a key regulation but said that the issue was being handled at “management level”.
Meanwhile, Africell has been accused of cheating their subscribers by refusing to convert to the new billing regime announced by NATCOM.
Investigations continue.

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