Councillors could be held liable

Questions raised on CoW telecommunications license

29 May 2020 | Local News

Windhoek • [email protected]
Persons involved in approving the proposed scheme of signing a deal with Chinese firm Huawei Communications should know that they may be acting outside the scope of their power and in contravention with the country’s laws, which may lead to be held personally liable.
Councillor Brunhilde Cornelius said during a motion regarding the City of Windhoek telecommunications services joint venture with Huawei, that she was caught off guard learning that the Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) approved the telecommunications license to the City, wanting to enter into an agreement with Chinese firm Huawei and not Telecom. She noted that the license provided by CRAN states that the license is provided on CRAN’s understanding that the CoW will partner with Telecom Namibia.
“This is to effectively monopolise the telecommunications sector in the capital, which intention is clear from newly proposed regulations by the CoW to increase its control over access by other telecommunications services providers, both public and privately owned,” Cornelius said during the council meeting on Thursday evening.
According to her, the City issued proposed regulations to regulate trenching and excavations on streets at the same time they received the license from CRAN. “There can be little doubt that the intention is for the CoW to become a telecommunications service provider, directly or through a joint venture, and at the same time have the right to exclude other telecommunications service providers from competing with the City,” she said.
Cornelius reminded councillors that the court ruled that the right to install fibre optic infrastructure is derived from the communications act and that the City is specifically interdicted from interfering with such right. “This council may only make regulations within the scope of the local authorities act. The proposed regulations to control trenching and thus to become the gatekeeper of who may install fibre optic networks is not included. The proposed regulations will no doubt lead to further litigation against us, with this council having little chance of success and the legal cost of this will be for our residents,” she said.
She asked that the management committee provide a detailed financial analysis of the economic impact that will result from the CoW monopolising or lessening revenue to government due to excluding or limiting private sector activities, as well the impact on publicly owned telecommunications providers.

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