Telecom accused of frustrating competition

Tuesday April 9 2013

By Faridah kulabako

MTN Uganda has been accused of frustrating competition by allegedly denying EzeeMoney, a subsidiary of Mobile Money International, a platform to provide mobile money services in Uganda.
In a letter dated March 19, 2013, and addressed to Eng Godfrey Mutabazi, the UCC executive director, EzeeMoney through AF Mpanga advocates, alleges that it had obtained a contract from MTN for the provision of digital transmission [E1] and 30 fixed telephone lines to carry out its mobile money business.

EzeeMoney says upon receiving approval from UCC [Dec 12] and clearing it to use the 7711 short code to enable its customers to subscribe for e-money services, the firm went ahead and contracted Yo! Uganda Limited (YUL) to implement the service.

According to a January 10 letter, a copy of which was obtained by Prosper, YUL wrote to MTN, requesting for the activation of EzeeMoney’s 7711 short code on its network.

However, it is reportedly said, MTN, acting in blatant infringement of the provisions of section 53(1) and (2) (a) of the Uganda Communications Act, responded in a letter to YUL dated January 28, (copy seen by Prosper)saying it (MTN) was not in position to activate EzeeMoney’s short code on the YUL account.

“EzeeMoney is in direct competition with MTN in the provision of mobile money services, should they wish to clarify their request, they are welcome to engage MTN directly,” reads part of the letter written by MTN’s chief marketing officer Mr Ernst Fonternel.
EzeeMoney says because of the ‘unlawful conduct’, an order should be issued prohibiting MTN from carrying out anti-competitive conduct against it and impose a fine of 10 per cent of its annual turnover as at Dec 31, 2012.

MTN Uganda general manager corporate services and chief legal counsel, Anthony Katamba however, said MTN has never had any contract with EzeeMoney.
“This is news to us and we can’t comment because we don’t know what they are talking about,” Mr Katamba said.
Mr Patrick Mwesigwa, UCC Technical Manager told this newspaper that UCC asked EzeeMoney to submit their complaint against MTN in writing given its complexity.