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Lesotho Communications Authority (LCA) has promulgated new administrative rules governing the telecom sector in Lesotho to smoothen the process of license application. 

The rules under the Lesotho Communications Authority (Administrative) (Amendment) Rules, 2020 came into effect on the 30th of October 2020, after being gazetted.

These Rules amend Rule 3(2) by removing the requirement for application by prior invitation and introduces application for all licenses on a first come first served basis.

Addressing the media in Lesotho on Wednesday, LCA chief executive officer Mamarame Matela said anyone with a solid business plan and financial resources should apply and get a license inside 90 days.

She said the licensee must resume operations within two years or risk revocation of such license. Matela said the move would usher in a new era where there is fair competition in Lesotho's telecom sector.

“As we chart forward into developing the business and to commemorate 20 years of existence, we are committed to seeing a digitally empowered nation,” she said. 

“We urge Basotho to take advantage of the opportunity presented by this transformation of the policy, we do this in the hope to see fair competition, economic growth as well as prosperity.”

For the past two decades, LCA had a licensing regime that maintained a closed market for unified licenses thereby allowing only two unified licensees within the market and limited the free entry of other competitors unless invited by the regulator.

The telecom sector is dominated by two telecom operators-Vodacom Lesotho and Econet Lesotho.

The relations between these operators and their regulator have been frosty for the past five years with the LCA threatening to revoke Vodacom Lesotho’s license in September this year and imposed a M134 million ($2,1 million) fine over non-compliance with the provisions of the latter's license, and failure to appoint independent auditors between 2015 and 2019.

Econet Lesotho was also fined $90 000 in October for late license renewal.

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