June 12, 2019 / 3:15 PM / 5 months ago

UPDATE 1-Vodacom challenges 2G network suspension in Congo court

(Adds Vodacom statement)

DAKAR, June 12 (Reuters) - Vodacom Group’s local unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo has filed a lawsuit against the revocation of its 2G telecoms license, the country’s telecommunications minister said on Wednesday.

The ministry withdrew the license in April, saying in a written order that its renewal in 2015 for $16 million did not follow proper procedures. The ministry says the actual cost of renewing the license is $65 million.

Vodacom, which holds a 51% stake in Vodacom Congo, said in a statement that “it is in ongoing discussions with all the relevant authorities to resolve this unfortunate situation.”

“Vodacom Congo followed a legally prescribed process when its 2G licence was extended in 2015 and duly complied with all applicable laws and regulations,” it said.

A hearing on Vodacom’s challenge of the suspension took place on Monday before the Council of State, which is expected to render a judgment soon, Telecommunications Minister Emery Okundji told Reuters, without providing additional details.

Vodacom Congo also holds 3G and 4G licenses, which are not affected by the order. It is not clear how many of its 12 million customers have been affected by the April order.

Vodacom’s operations in Congo accounted for $473.4 million of the company’s $5.85 billion in revenues for the year ending March 31, 2019. (Reporting By Aaron Ross, editing by Deepa Babington)

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