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Telkom Kenya Wants Regulator to Pay Compensation for Vandalism

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Dec. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Telkom Kenya Ltd., a unit of France Telecom SA, wants the industry regulator to pay it as much as 2 billion shillings ($25 million) in compensation for vandalism, Chief Executive Officer Mickael Ghossein said.

The Nairobi-based company’s fiber-optic links have been cut 342 times in the first 11 months of the year, Ghossein told reporters today in the Kenyan capital. The Communications Commission of Kenya could pay compensation out of a universal service fund that mobile-phone companies finance by contributing 1 percent of their annual revenue, he said.

“We are fed up with this kind of vandalism,” Ghossein said. “We are destroying Kenya’s economy, we are destroying our business, we are destroying our investment.”

Sabotage of fiber-optic cables in East Africa’s biggest economy has reached “crisis levels,” Bitange Ndemo, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Information and Communications, told reporters on Nov. 11. The authorities this month will increase the maximum penalty for those found guilty of vandalizing telecommunications cables to life imprisonment and fines as much as 10 million shillings, he said.

Three of Telkom Kenya’s fiber-optic cables were cut yesterday in Nairobi and towns on the Indian Ocean coast, affecting two outsourcing companies and Nairobi-based Mater Hospital, he said.

Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s biggest mobile-phone company, said last month that it had to delay a planned upgrade to its MPESA money-transfer service after underground cables were cut.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net.

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