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South Sudan to appeal Vivacell’s US$1bn claim

By , ITWeb’s Zambian correspondent.
South Sudan , 26 Jan 2023

The South Sudanese government says it will challenge the International Court of Arbitration over its ruling in favour of the plaintiff regarding the decision to cancel the operating licence of the now defunct operator Vivacell.

In 2018, the Sudanese government through the National Communications Authority (NCA), shut down the operator because of a US$60-million-plus tax dispute that effectively locked out 900, 000 subscribers.

At the time South Sudanese authorities argued that Vivacell had not secured a licence and was actually using a licence issued by Sudan.

South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011.

South Sudan’s government added that the operator was taking advantage of the licence to avoid paying taxes.

Vivacell took the matter to the International Court of Arbitration demanding that the South Sudanese government pay it US$3.5-billion in reparation for suspending its operation - despite the company being in possession of a valid licence.

The court found in favour of Vivacell and ordered the South Sudanese government to pay the operator US$1-billion in reparation instead of the US$3.5-billion the operator demanded.

South Sudan’s cabinet minister Dr Martin Elia Lomuro confirmed that the government will appeal the decision.

Lomuro said, “The council of ministers has approved US$4.5-million to appeal against the court decision demanding the government to pay Vivacell US$1-billion because the Ministry of Information, Telecommunication, Technology and Postal Services suspended the operator from operating on ground that it had a licence that waived every tax.”

Vivacell is owned by Lebanon’s Fattouch Investment Group and when it was suspended was the country’s largest operator competing with MTN and Kuwait’s Zain.

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