The heads of two Tanzanian operators have reportedly been charged with fraud, along with four unnamed suspects.
Halotel MD Le Van Dai and Zantel (Zanzibar Telecom) head Sherif El Barbary are among the six suspects charged for “fraudulent use of a network facility”. A police raid found that the executives and their alleged accomplices were in the possession of almost 300,000 unregistered SIM cards.
It has been claimed that the SIM cards were used by the executives unlawfully to send and receive SMS messages internationally. The group has been charged with illegally importing and operating telecoms equipment as a means of circumventing government surveillance systems. All parties have denied the charges.
Halotel is part of Vietnamese group Viettel. It launched its Ethiopian operations in 2015 – the same year in which Millicom acquired Zantel from Etisalat. There are a further six operators in Tanzania, including number three Tigo, which is also owned by Millicom. Airtel and Vodacom take first and second place. At the end of Q1 2018, Halotel’s share of the market was around 9%, while Zantel’s was 3%.