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By: Nghiinomenwa Erastus

The regulator says that the South African telecommunication giant MTN does not need to co-invest with MTC to share its existing telecommunication infrastructures.

A statement released on Wednesday by the Communication Regulatory Authority of Namibia (Cran) rubbishes the notion that since MTN was approached to partner up with MTC for infrastructure investment and refused, it should not benefit.

According to Cran’s chief executive officer, Emilia Nghikembua, “the contention that licensees that do not co-invest in infrastructure may not share, is not legally nor economically correct”.

As the dominant player, she said MTC has obtained economic advantage and now is time to allow others to share in that advantage.

“The concept denotes that dominant operators have gained an economic advantage over other operators and must allow other operators to share in that advantage for the benefit of consumers,” said Nghikembua.

She said the arrangement is not for free as the lessee of infrastructure must pay a sharing fee to the lessor.

According to Nghikembua, MTC is welcome to approach them through the Communications Act to raise its grievances for re-consideration.

MTC last week vowed to challenge Cran’s order, citing that the firm to benefit refused to partner up to build infrastructure.

According to Cran, the country has two legal instruments plus the second Harambe Plan that dictate the dominant operator to share its infrastructure if it has a spare capacity that it is not utilising itself.

The legal instruments are the Telecommunications Policy of 2009, the Communications Act, while the country economic road map Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP II)’ Pillar 4 encompasses Infrastructure Development.

The regulator wrote that “the infrastructure sharing is an economic arrangement that bears a legal obligation on dominant telecommunications operators to share spare capacity on their network with non-dominant operators”.

Section 50 of the Communications Act sets out the legal requirements for infrastructure sharing on dominant operators.

According to Cran, Mobile Telecommunications Ltd (MTC) has been declared a dominant operator for the Wireless End-user Access Market as per Section 78 of the act.

The Communications Act provides license categories that allow operators to only provide an electronic communication service without constructing their network.

With the understanding that they will share capacity with other operators.

Nghikembua said, “dominant operators must have spare capacity to share infrastructure with other operators”.

In the case of MTC, an independent assessment was conducted by the authority (with participation by MTC).

The assessment, according to Nghikembua, revealed that the supply side capacity on the MTC networks exceeds the levels of traffic demand (both in the current year and soon) and hence directed MTC to share infrastructure.

“The said assessment was based on network data provided by MTC for the investigation,” she said.

Nghikembua highlighted no obligation for infrastructure sharing if the dominant operator will utilise the infrastructure for its purpose.

However, an exemption from the authority needs to be extended.

However, MTC has not received an exemption from the Cran in this regard for them to utilise their excess space.


According to Cran, from a telecommunications and economics perspective, infrastructure sharing is designed to benefit consumers primarily by limiting duplication of infrastructure so that new investments can be geared towards underserved areas and improved customer service.

Sharing infrastructure will significantly reduce barriers to market entry, which means that more operators can enter the market, and consumers will have more choices.

Resulting in costs reduction, and improved quality of service, and lower prices, explain Cran.

Furthermore, the regulator highlighted that sharing would alleviate the pressure of network deployment and allow operators to turn their attention to improved innovation, better customer service, and eventually better commercial offerings and healthier competition.

Cran explained that telecommunications networks are built with consumers’ money, and consumers have therefore earned the privilege to receive services from such a network, regardless of the operator.

According to the regulator’s assessment, the cost of data and other telecommunication services in Namibia remains high due to operators’ refusal to share infrastructure.

The African Affordability ranking indicates Namibia dropped from the 4th cheapest on the continent in the first quarter (Q1) of 2016 to the 33rd most affordable country in Q1 2021 for 5GB per month.

Infrastructure sharing will allow for effective competition, which will lead to price reductions for the benefit of consumers.

“The Authority has observed with concern that dominant operators have demonstrated a low appetite for regulatory compliance concerning sharing infrastructure,” revealed Nhikembua.

Urging MTC to consider consumers,

She said the refusal by the operator to share might deprive consumers of enjoying the fruits of competition, such as reduced prices and better network quality.

Nghikembua indicated that the regulator should enforce the infrastructure sharing framework for the benefit of all Namibian consumers.

Moreover, to comply with the objectives of the government policy.

Cell-C (an operator in South Africa) is one the case of infrastructure sharing, with 10 million customers all receiving network services from other licensees.


Julia Heita

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