MTN Uganda executives have told eagle online that government needs to come up with a homogeneous licence fee for telecom companies operating in the country.
The executives who talked to Eagle Online believe that MTN Uganda is discriminated against when it comes to licence fees, despite the fact that the company is one of the best taxpayers in the country.
For instance they say Airtel paid US$150,000 for the fiver-year licence while MTN was to pay US$58 million to renew the licence for 10 years.
MTN Uganda’s 20-year license expired last October. The firm applied for a 10-year extension and UCC gave it an interim renewal lasting 60-days pending resolution of some issues before a final license is issued.
President Museveni wanted the company to pay US$100 million reasoning that shareholders repatriate huge profits from Uganda.
“You ought to be aware that over the 20 years span during which MTN has been operating in Uganda, it has reaped vast profits most of which have obviously been repatriated. This is common knowledge derived from the company’s own declarations and from our own sources,” President Museveni wrote to UCC and ministry of ICT on October 28, 2018.
Museveni, in also in a letter dated November 19, 2018 to the Minister of ICT and National Guidance Frank Tumwebaze and the Attorney General, said he was “astonished” by UCC’s decision to charge MTN US $58 million.
Tumwebaze in a letter dated December 14, 2018 replied Museveni that UCC had decided to cut MTN’s fee to US $58 million from US$100 million after the company said it would need to invest about US $200 million to meet the conditions of a new national broadband policy.
According to Tumwebaze, the policy compels local telecom companies to invest in infrastructure so as to guarantee high quality voice calls and high data speeds across the country, including in rural areas where returns are low.
Meanwhile, company’s executives have asked government security agencies to spare its Chairman Charles Magezi Mbire from investigation, saying Mbire is not involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. “He only waits for us to bring him a report for approval as Chairman,” one of the executives said, saying the businessman should be applauded for bringing MTN to Uganda.
MTN Uganda is the largest telecom operator in Uganda with more than 10 million subscribers. Government also wants the company to list on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE) so that Ugandans buy some of the shares. Negotiations on this matter continue between government and owners of the company.