June 17, 2019 / 12:57 PM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 2-Congo court upholds suspension of Vodacom's 2G licence

* Govt suspended licence over dispute about cost of renewal

* Ministry says Vodacom has 3 months to negotiate licence

* Suspension does not affect 3G or 4G licences (Adds Vodacom statement)

KINSHASA, June 17 (Reuters) - A court in Democratic Republic of Congo upheld the government’s suspension of Vodacom Group’s 2G telecoms licence on Monday, the company and Congo’s telecommunications ministry said.

The Council of State ruled that Vodacom Congo must wait three months to challenge the ministry’s suspension of its 2G license, the company said in a statement.

The ministry, which suspended the licence in April, says the cost of renewing the licence is $65 million. Vodacom paid $16 million to renew it in 2015, a process the ministry says did not follow proper procedures.

John Aluku, chief of staff to the telecommunications minister, said Vodacom Congo now had three months to renegotiate its 2G licence with the government before it goes up for auction.

“The Congolese authorities and Vodacom Congo are engaged in discussions to reach an amicable outcome,” the company said. “Vodacom recalls that it obtained the extension of its 2G license in 2015 legally and in conformity with the laws and regulations in effect at the time.”

South Africa’s Vodacom Group holds a 51% stake in Vodacom Congo.

The suspension does not affect Vodacom Congo’s 3G or 4G licences in Congo. It is not clear how many of its 12 million customers only have access to 2G coverage. (Reporting by Stanis Bujakera; Writing by Aaron Ross; Editing by Louise Heavens/David Goodman/Susan Fenton)

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