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This paper seeks to assess radio-spectrum refarming in selected African countries. It provides an overview of the debate
around spectrum refarming and it presents case studies that offer insights into the African context. This discussion identifies
regulatory constrains hindering an optimal usage of premium frequencies and provides policy and regulatory
recommendations on how to facilitate spectrum refarming.
Findings show that the analysed African regulatory environments have implemented a technology-neutral licensing regime to
enhance competition. Although this regulatory intervention opened up the market by enhancing market opportunities and
granting additional licenses, some of the new licensees cannot begin operations because of an artificially created scarcity of
spectrum. Further, new licensing frameworks have created a competitive advantage for those operators already holding
premium frequencies, as they can refarm assigned spectrum bands positioning themselves as both voice and data service
In addition, due to regulatory delays in liberalising and refarming frequencies suitable for wireless broadband roll-out such as
2.6GHz and 3.5GHz, incumbent operators are merging with smaller telcos, in order to access additional spectrum for the
provision of wireless broadband services. This is leading to a spectrum hoarding.