(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAFARICOM ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MICHAEL JOSEPH, SAYING: "I don't think America is going to tell us what Kenya should or should not do." Kenya's biggest telecoms operator Safaricom will consider awarding a contract to China's Huawei as it rolls out its fifth generation, or 5G network this year even as the United States has been urging its European allies not to use Huawei, citing security concerns.
So says Safaricom's acting chief executive Michael Joseph.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAFARICOM ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MICHAEL JOSEPH, SAYING: "We will use Huawei in 5G, but you know the answer you are trying to make me give you is what will we do in terms of the American statements about not using Huawei?
We don't have that situation in Africa." But analysts say involving Huawei in Safaricom's 5G network could hamper talks, announced this month, on a free trade agreement between the U.S. and Kenya.
Joseph said Safaricom would follow guidance from its two main shareholders, South Africa's Vodacom and the UK's Vodafone - but added that the advice is not legally binding.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAFARICOM ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MICHAEL JOSEPH, SAYING: "We don't have any big brother here who is telling us what we can and cannot do." Safaricom, the most profitable company in East Africa, is also planning to expand into Ethiopia where Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has promised to open up the state-run telecoms sector.
Two operating licenses are expected to be offered and Safaricom is putting together a consortium, including Vodacom and Vodafone, for its bid.
But Joseph said the price of entry is expected to be lower than the initially quoted figure of $1 billion.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) SAFARICOM ACTING CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER, MICHAEL JOSEPH, SAYING "I do not know what it could be but it wont be, I do not think it is going to be a billion dollars now." Joseph took over the helm at Safaricom in July after the death of longtime CEO Bob Collymore.
He will hand over to full-time appointment Peter Ndegwa on April 1.