KIGALI - MTN Rwandacell has expressed concerns over delays by Rwandatel to pay an outstanding debt accrued from interconnection fees.
Both, MTN and Rwandatel are leading telecommunication companies in Rwanda and share an interconnection agreement.
Under the telecommunication services provision regulations in Rwanda, companies are required to assess and pay each other whatever interconnection fees are due at the end of every month but according to MTN, Rwandatel has for long violated this agreement.
“Rwandatel owes us approximately Rwf 4bn” a source in MTN who is familiar with the case said, adding that Rwandatel has repeatedly broken various promises to pay.
“They have deliberately refused to pay this money.”
Following the disagreement, MTN dragged Rwandatel to court early this year to seek redress.
The Commercial High Court, which handled the case, gave Rwandatel up to the end of October to pay the outstanding debts before taking further action, a deadline which has since passed.
However, according to the Vice President of the Commercial High Court, Benoit Gatete, when the two companies returned to court, “Rwandatel produced a binding legal document that had been signed between the two companies which indicated that such grievances were to be settled through arbitration.”
“This meant that the Commercial High Court was not competent to try this case and advised them to get an arbitrator and in case it fails with the arbitrator, that is when they can return to court.” Gatete further explained that;
According to the sources, both companies are currently soliciting for an arbitrator.
When contacted for an official comment, Cleophas Kabasiita, Rwandatel’s Corporate Communications Manager, said she needed to first make consultations and get back to this reporter, which she had not done so by press time.
The terms of the law for the interconnection agreement provides for either party to legally cut off interconnectivity. This implies that if the two companies fail to agree, MTN may consider cutting the interconnection.
Cutting off the interconnectivity link means that Rwandatel’s approximately 280,000 subscribers will not be able to make a call on the MTN network which is comprised of at least 1.4 million subscribers and vice versa.
Currently the interconnection fees are about Rwf40 for every call made from Rwandatel to MTN.