The Kenya Information and Communications (Amendment) Bill 2019, is about to tear apart the telecommunication business from mobile money business. Sponsored by Gem MP Elisha Odhiambo, the bill will force mobile phone companies to form separate arms to manage any other business they engage in, outside telecommunications services.
According to the bill, telcos will have to legally separate the telecommunications business from such other business and will have to apply for licences from the respective industry regulators.
In so doing, Safaricom will have to maintain a separate financial statements for the mobile money transfer and lending units and any other businesses it ventures into besides facilitating phone calls, short message services and data while Telkom Kenya and Airtel set to merge, will have to veer off other businesses they engage in outside the core telecommunications.
If assented into law by the president, the Communications Commission of Kenya (CA) will be required to inform Parliament about the compliance levels by the telcos, first within six months after the Bill becomes law and once a year thereafter. Anyone who rebels the proposed regulations and fails to obtain the relevant licences for their respective businesses will be liable to a fine not exceeding ten million shillings or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or both.
“The amendment will further aid in the control of anti-competitive practices by the large industries in the sector and compel them to invest in infrastructure that will guarantee the quality of service to consumers,” said Mr Odhimbo.
He also proposes the creation of a “Universal Service Fund” to be managed by the Communications Authority and whose purpose will be to increase access to mobile telephone services countrywide while promoting innovation in information and communications technology services.
This could be one step close to nailing telco giant Safaricom after botched attempts in the past by Members of Parliament in getting Safaricom to split its telecommunications service business from MPesa.