Ralph Mupita speaks out against Electronic Communications Amendment Bill

01 September 2023

MTN Group CEO Ralph Mupita has slammed South Africa's Electronic Communications Amendment Bill, as he believes it discourages the private sector from investing in the economy.

Mupita raised these concerns during a recent media roundtable in Johannesburg. Referring to the recently published bill, which aims to introduce significant amendments to the Electronic Communications Act (ECA), Mupita said if passed, the bill could harm the country's image as an investor-friendly emerging market.

If signed into law, the bill will make some significant changes to the country's communications industry. It will empower the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to share spectrum licenses and enforce competition rulings, while also introducing regulations for mobile virtual networks in the country and forcing bigger operators to open to them.

"Our perspective is that some of the requirements in the bill are very challenging for maintaining a positive investment climate in South Africa," said Mupita. "Operators who have invested a lot of capital must open up their networks and be able to provide these to third parties. From an investment client point of view, that is challenging as when you invested, your assumption was that your investment can give you a competitive advantage.”

Mupita added that ICASA's proposed Numbering Plan Regulations for mobile phone numbers is also a regulatory challenge. The new regulation states that if a subscriber has not used their number in 30 days, they should be cut off and the number should be returned. Subscribers will then have ten more days to make a call or send a message to keep their number.

"If subscribers don't do that, their number will be deactivated and quarantined for a month before it can be given to someone else," said Mupita. "This is another element of the regulatory environment that is making it more intense than it was in the past.”