The Board of Malawi Communications Regulatory Authority (Macra) has resolved to terminate a contract it signed with Agilis International Inc., a United States (US) firm to supply and implement the Consolidated ICT Regulatory Management System (Cirms).
According to minutes of a board meeting, Macra board plans to hire Global Voice Group of South Africa to take over and implement the Cirms project.
The decision to terminate Agilis contract and hire Global Voice S.A. was made last week at a board meeting held at Sunbird Ku Chawe in Zomba.
Macra has faced resistance to sell the Cirms project to both consumers and telecommunications operators after operators branded the Cirms as a ‘spy machine’ despite repetitive calls by the regulator that the machine would protect consumers from exploitative behaviours by service providers.
Cirms is expected to generate $3 million (about K2.07 billion at current exchange rate) for Macra in annual revenue.
Under the contract with Agilis, the authority was supposed to make an outright purchase of the system at a contracted price of $6.9 million (about K4.6 billion) in 2010.
Macra, after a protracted court battle with one of the mobile operators—TNM—in October 2015 was given a go-ahead by the High Court in Zomba to proceed with implementation and use of the Cirms to monitor mobile phone operators.
However, according to the board meeting minutes, the stay orders obtained by TNM (in April 2015) stopping Macra from going ahead with implementation of Cirms still occasioned an in ordinate delay in the performance of the Cirms contract and thereby frustrated the Cirms contract; hence, the decision to terminate the contract with Agilis.
“Management would also like to advise that, in order to protect the Authority’s interests, the Authority should proceed to write Agilis asking for a refund of $6 500 000 paid indicating what amount was paid before 27th November 2015 and the amount that was paid after 27th November 2015 and that a reasonable deadline for such refund should be fourteen (14) days from the date of the letter,” reads part of the minutes.
The minutes read: ” In the event that Agilis comes up with a set off claim on the 13th March 2015 contract, the Authority will counterclaim for part of the money paid on the previous contract with respect to which there was not full consideration furnished by Agilis in terms of performance.”
The minutes also indicate that Macra management feels Agilis is entitled to set off against the money being refunded to the authority or its expenses incurred by Agilis prior and up to November 27 2015 in the performance of the Cirms contract.