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Regulator seeks power to license retail mobile cash agents

Francis Wangusi, the CA director general told parliament yesterday that the registration seeks to make the agents neutral so that they can serve the telecoms operators. Mr Wangusi said plans were underway to set up a system that will enable agents to support multiple mobile money platforms using a single float.The CA also wants mobile service providers to share telecommunication towers with competitors in Northern Kenya’s seven semi-arid counties.

The Communications Authority (CA), is seeking powers to license all mobile money agents. FILE PHOTO | NMG

The Communications Authority (CA), is seeking powers to license all mobile money agents as part of new measures targeting market dominance in the telecommunications sector. Francis Wangusi, the CA director general told parliament Monday that the registration seeks to make the agents neutral so that they can serve the telecoms operators.“The agents are going to be licensed to check misuse of information provided by mobile operators,” Mr Wangusi told the National Assembly’s committee on ICT.Leading telecoms operator, Safaricom, has 160,000 agents for its M-Pesa platform, Airtel money has 30,000 while Telkom’s T-Kash has 7,000.

“We have proposed a series of regulations that are currently in the Attorney General’s office, including one that will facilitate infrastructure sharing,” Mr Wangusi said adding that the proposals have been lying somewhere for the past two years.He spoke in parliament where he presented a report on telecommunications sector competition.Mr Wangusi said plans were underway to set up a system that will enable agents to support multiple mobile money platforms using a single float.Francis Wangusi, the CA director general told parliament that the registration seeks to make the agents neutral so that they can serve the telecoms operators. FILE PHOTO | NMG“We are proposing that the agents be facilitated to offer mobile money services to all operators. This will be in line with the provisions of the Competition Act,” he said.Mr Wangusi told MPs that when the rules become operational, restricting agents from selling other providers’ products will be punishable as it is against the provisions of the Competition Act.The CA also wants mobile service providers to share telecommunication towers with competitors in Northern Kenya’s seven semi-arid counties.Mr Wangusi said that had the regulations been approved, the CA would have made some of the interventions it is proposing today.“We are transacting about Sh1.9 trillion on a network that controls 90 per cent of the mobile money services. The danger is that if it collapses for two days, there will be a serious impact on the economy and even to national security.“When this report is adopted and Parliament gives us the go-ahead to gazette the rules, we will make interventions like never before,” Mr Wangusi said.The CA has been conducting market review and has identified five retail market and eight wholesale markets in the sector where intervention is needed.“We were able to determine that Safaricom is dormant in certain rural counties in terms of towers. This is Isiolo, Garisa, Mandera, Marsabit, Samburu, Turkana and Wajir,” Mr Wangusi said.Nominated MP Geoffrey Otsotsi demanded to know if the CA has conducted a survey on economic impact of the competition.Mr Wangusi told MPs that the CA board has not adopted the survey report because the committee demanded that its input be taken into account.He said the issuance of determination on dominant market power, designation of dominant players and regulated services is yet to be undertaken because a final report has not been adopted.ALSO READ: Safaricom, KCB look North as Ethiopia opens market

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