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S.African telecoms watchdog says likely to reach settlement with two firms by end August

JOHANNESBURG, June 11 (Reuters) - South Africa’s telecoms regulator said on Friday the ongoing negotiations with two companies over litigation related to the government’s proposed spectrum auction will be resolved by the end of August.

“We should be in a good position to yield an amicable settlement agreement by no later than end of August 2021,” said Keabetswe Modimoeng, chairman of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), in a release.

Two of the top three telecom companies in South Africa - MTN Group Ltd and partly state-owned Telkom - had dragged the ICASA to court in two separate cases claiming the process to auction high-demand spectrum in the country was disadvantageous to them.

As a result, the court halted the auction process that was due to be completed in March 2021.

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called the auction of spectrum, which had been delayed for over a decade, a major element of economic reform in the country.

On Thursday, he asked all parties involved to mediate on the issue and find a quick solution.

ICASA has been involved in discussions with the parties since March. It said that when a settlement is reached, it will need a few more weeks to announce a new date for the auction process to restart.

Reporting by Promit Mukherjee in Johannesburg Editing by Matthew Lewis

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