By Issa Sikiti da Silva
Africell subscribers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are now able to make calls towards Vodacom and Orange networks as the suspension has been lifted, following a series of intense negotiations behind the scenes.
Scenes of joy erupted this week across this vast Central African nation, as news of the Africell interconnection was being ‘broadcast’ from ear to ear and spread like fire, especially in the capital Kinshasa.
“I don’t believe it, I’ve got to see myself before I believe,” Kiki Matondo said, as he headed to buy Africell flash units at one street corner of the impoverished township of Kimbangu.
So far, there has been no official statement from neither Africell nor its two new partners, but speculation was rife that mobile operators Tigo and Airtel might join the bandwagon ‘soon’.
The news has also pushed some users to start using their old Africell sim cards again.
Aboubakar Nismba said: “I discarded my Africell sim card long ago due to the lack of interconnection, but I didn’t throw it away. Now it’s the time to bring it back on stage. Thank God, Africell has won the war.”
Africell DRC, which launched its operations in June 2012, saw its interconnection ‘unfairly’ suspended on November 2012, an action that hurt its sentiments and paved the way to a legal showdown with its rivals and the regulator ARPTC.
“We found out on November 8 that Airtel cut our interconnection. Vodacom and Tigo then followed suit the following day,” board chairperson Mbayo Lufunga said three years ago.
Vodacom said at the time that Africell prices were bringing the market into disrepute.
Africell DRC said early January that its users would get many surprises in 2015.
One of them could just be the launch of its mobile internet.
The network is already sending an SMS to its users, saying briefly and concisely: ‘Soon the 3G’.