South Sudan suspends Vivacell telecom operations

South Sudan’s National Communication Authority (NCA) has suspended the operations of Vivacell, one of the largest telecommunication companies in the country.

“The National Communication Authority would like to inform the public that the operations of Vivacell mobile network operator has been suspended, effective from 20th March, 2018, due to directives of the minister of information, communication technology and postal service”, NCA’s Director General Lado Wani Kenyi said in a letter.

The decision to suspend Vivacell, it further stated, followed directives from the minister of information who directed implementation of his directive, but which will only come into effect for the local clients after one week and “immediately” for international communication.

“However, due to the inconvenience the suspension might cause to the customers, NCA has given Vivacell a period of one (1) week to suspend all operations,” read the 20 March letter.

“But international traffic is immediately suspended, the letter added.

The decision to suspend Vivacell, sources told Sudan Tribune, is linked to its failure to pay taxes and continued using license obtained from Sudan.

The government, according to Kenyi, instead preferred the use of international gateway policy managed by the information ministry.

Vivacel, owned by the Lebanon-based Fattouch Investment Group, launched its Global System for Mobile communication (GSM) network in February 2009.

By early 2011, the mobile telecom operator said it had achieved network coverage in all South Sudan’s 10 state capitals, and along main roads from Juba to Yei and Bor.

Apart from Vivacell, however, South Sudan has two other mobile phone operators, MTN and Zain, with reportedly less than 4 million subscribers.

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