A committee in the Kenyan National Assembly has refused to approve the merger of Airtel Kenya and Telkom Kenya until more information is revealed about the proposal.
Claiming that “the deal has all the hallmarks of a scandal where private individuals are buying off a public entity through the backdoor for a song”, the committee has called on government agencies to provide further details about the merger.
In 2014, the Public Investment Committee issued a report which made several suggestions for privatising and restructuring the finances of Telkom Kenya, and these appear to have been ignored.
The committee is now seeking clarification on why this has occurred, with vice-chair and nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi saying that “all those mentioned in the report and the implementing agencies” had been asked to explain why the recommendations had not yet been implemented.
Alongside Telkom Kenya itself, the agencies mentioned in the report include the Communications Authority of Kenya, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, the Ministry of ICT and the National Treasury. All of them have been summoned before the committee.
The merger would create a new joint venture formed from Airtel Kenya and the mobile, enterprise and carrier service units of Telkom Kenya. It will allow the operators to compete more effectively against the dominant market leader Safaricom.