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The Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) has slapped Econet Telecom Lesotho (ETL) with a 1.5 million maLoti (M) (about $91 000) over their late license renewal.

Lesotho licensing rules require telecoms operators to renew their license two years before the expiry of the existing license.

Speaking at a media briefing in Maseru, LCA CEO Mamarame Matela confirmed  that ETL was fined for the breach of licensing rules.

“Econet was unable to submit its application for the renewal of its licence on 11 October 2019 as expected. There is a requirement in terms of the rules for a licensee to submit its application two years before the end of the existing licence,” she said.

“ETL subsequently applied for condonation that they are allowed to submit their application late. After lengthy deliberations, the LCA board allowed them to do so on condition that they pay a penalty of M1, 5 million by the end of December 2020.”

Matela said ETL was also unable to submit its audited financial statements in terms of the conditions of its licence 90 days after the end of their financial year, which ended in February 2020. The matter was still before the authority.

Previously, ETL also received a M515, 1 million ($31 million) loan the Lesotho government.

“Econet has also been requested, as part of its licence renewal application, to explain to the authority how the M515, 1 million loan from the government will be serviced if its licence is not renewed,” Matela said.  The LCA has also asked ETL to explain how the amount was utilised. The money was to be used for the expansion of  ETL's infrastructure.

An ETL representative told Biztech Africa on Monday that they engaged LCA to settle their issues.

“We resolved the (licensing) matter with the regulator amicably,” the spokesperson said.

Econet Telecoms Lesotho and Vodacom Lesotho enjoy a duopoly in the telecom sector in the Southern Africa’s mountain kingdom. But word on the street is that plans are underway for the regulator to open up the telecom sector to end this duopoly.

The LCA is also in a legal battle with VCL after it slapped the telecoms giant with a M134 million ($8 million) fine over their refusal to appoint an independent auditor in the period 2015 to 2019.

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