ICT boss terms proposal to hive off M-Pesa danger to economy

Sunday February 26 2017

Joe Mucheru

Ministry Information, Communication and Technology Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru addresses journalists at Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls School in Nyeri on February 25, 2017. He said the government will ensure investors are protected. PHOTO | JOSEPH WANGUI | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By JOSEPH WANGUI
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The ministry Information, Communication and Technology has opposed recommendations of an international consultant firm to separate telecommunication firm Safaricom from its mobile money service M-Pesa.

Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has said the proposal by Analysys Mason is detrimental to investors and innovators.

"Safaricom is not among top 10 biggest telecoms in Africa. Splitting businesses will be a problem because at the moment Kenya wants to be the best in Africa.

"You cannot begin to punish companies for their innovativeness. Changes provided by Safaricom are significant. Nobody can say that is not the case," Mr Mucheru said.

While addressing journalists at Bishop Gatimu Ngandu Girls School in Nyeri on Saturday, the CS said the Communications Authority of Kenya board is yet to discuss the report.

Mr Mucheru said the country is ready to protect local and foreign investors by ensuring there is fair competition.

"There is dominance in voice, which is a big area, according to the report. Parliament also wants to separate mobile money from the telecommunications and data business. We are having discussions with telecommunication operators in the country to determine how to manage dominance," he added.

The consultant firm made several recommendations that are meant to discourage market dominance and anti-competitive behaviour.

Meanwhile, he said efforts by Communications Authority to monitor mobile phone networks is illegal.

"Snooping on phones is not government’s policy and it has never been our intention. There are clear laws on how to access information in case of terrorism or criminal situations," Mr Mucheru observed.

Director-General Francis Wangusi said proliferation of illegal communication devices in Kenya demanded quick adoption of the Device Management System (DMS).

"If we want to protect this country from such predatory behaviour, we should not backtrack from the plan," he said.