Icasa gets tough on unused spectrum with new regulations

June 4, 2024
5 min read
Image source: TechCentrral

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Nǐ hǎo,

Victoria from Techpoint here,

Here's what I've got for you today:

  • Icasa gets tough on unused spectrum with new regulations
  • How Orange Ventures is transforming venture capital in Africa
  • CBN revokes Heritage Bank’s licence 
  • CBN lifts ban on new account openings for five fintechs

Icasa gets tough on unused spectrum with new regulations

Image source: TechCentrral

South Africa's communications minister has announced a new "use-it-or-lose-it" policy to prevent companies like mobile networks and broadcasters from hoarding valuable radio spectrum.

The policy, published by Minister Mondli Gungubele, seeks to ensure that spectrum is used efficiently and not wasted.

The new policy outlines how the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) will regulate and assign high-demand spectrum. Spectrum is essential for mobile networks, TV and radio broadcasters, vehicle tracking companies, and more to communicate between devices and their networks.

Icasa’s job is to prevent companies from keeping unused spectrum that could be used for other purposes. The policy supports a “liberalisation of spectrum use,” allowing companies to decide what technology they use to provide services. Icasa will measure spectrum usage to ensure it's used as efficiently as possible.

If spectrum goes unused for 24 months, the company will lose it under the new policy. For over a decade, Icasa has used financial incentives to discourage spectrum hoarding. Since April 2012, the "Administrative Incentive Pricing scheme" has made it costly for companies to hold onto more capacity than they need.

Companies like Telkom and state-owned signal distributor Sentech have felt the impact. In 2013, Telkom's spectrum fees jumped dramatically due to the new pricing. That same year, Sentech returned its 2.6GHz and 3.5GHz spectrum to Icasa, partly because of the tenfold increase in costs.

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Orange Ventures' approach to venture capital in Africa

Brelotte Ba, Deputy CEO of Orange Middle East and Africa

Orange Ventures Africa, founded in 2015, is a prominent corporate venture fund investing in startups across 18 African countries, and with $350 million in assets under management. 

The fund supports startups by providing capital and leveraging the extensive infrastructure of its parent company, Orange Group, including services like Orange Money and Orange Energy. Some African startups in its portfolio include Terragon, Julaya, Chari, Yoco, Gebeya, and Afrikamart. 

In a recent interview at GITEX Morocco, Deputy CEO Brelotte Ba emphasized Orange Ventures’ long-term commitment to nurturing startups, focusing on sectors such as AI, fintech, and logistics, to drive growth and financial inclusion across Africa.

Read more about Orange Ventures' unique approach in this piece by Chimgozirim

CBN revokes Heritage Bank’s licence

CBN building
The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. [PHOTO CREDIT: Ehud Kaduna]

On Friday, May 31, 2024, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) revoked Heritage Bank's licence due to a breach of Section 12(1) of the Banks and Other Financial Institutions Act 2020. 

The CBN explained that Heritage Bank has been struggling financially with no signs of recovery. They felt it was necessary to pull the plug on the bank to keep confidence in the financial system.

According to the CBN, Heritage Bank couldn't turn things around, putting its financial stability at risk. They tried working with the bank and suggested various ways to stop the decline, but things didn't improve. In a statement, the CBN said the bank's continued financial troubles left them with no choice but to revoke the licence.

Revoking the licence let the National Insurance Deposit Corporation (NDIC) step in over the weekend to take over the bank’s assets and liabilities.

The CBN has also replaced executives at Union, Keystone, and Polaris banks. Section 12 of the Act allows the CBN to revoke a bank's licence if it fails to meet certain conditions, such as being undercapitalised, operating unsoundly, or not having enough assets to cover its liabilities.

Reports last year indicated that Heritage Bank had been trying to attract strategic investors for about five years but had yet to be successful. A former executive mentioned that the bank's ambition to compete with top-tier banks fell apart due to poor decisions. After reviewing the bank's troubled finances, potential investors backed out, leaving it highly indebted.

CBN lifts ban on new account openings for five fintechs

Image credit: Businesstimes.ng

The Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has lifted the ban on new account openings for OPay, Moniepoint, Kuda, PalmPay, and Paga. 

In April 2024, the CBN told these five fintechs to pause onboarding new customers to tackle fraud in the industry. The ban was likely lifted because the fintechs met the CBN's KYC standards. 

In April 2024, the CBN froze 1,146 bank accounts linked to unauthorized forex transactions. Then in May, the neobanks had meetings with the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), and the CBN to discuss lifting the ban.

Authorities required the neobanks to restrict peer-to-peer crypto transactions and update customer details. They also had to make sure all accounts have bank verification numbers or national identity numbers, following a December 2023 directive aimed at strengthening KYC processes, which were initially relaxed to promote financial inclusion.

Consequently, PalmPay rolled out facial verification and started physically visiting merchants to verify addresses. Kuda asked customers to upload proof of their home addresses. OPay also began requiring physical address verification for all merchants using OPay Business, with staff visiting locations to help with the process.

In case you missed it

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Have a terrific Tuesday!

Victoria Fakiya for Techpoint Africa.

She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.
She's autistic and interested in mental health and how technology can help Africans with mental disorders. Find her on Twitter @latoria_ria.

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