Measures applicable to the communications sector during the State of Emergency
As already indicated in previous legal instruments related to the declaration of the State of Emergency, as per Article 9(g) of Law no. 8/2020, of 29 June, which approves the ratification of the extension of the State of Emergency for the third time, and the respective Presidential Decree no. 21/2020, of 26 June, courier and telecommunications services are considered as essential services. Thus, they should be maintained during the State of Emergency.
The National Communications Institute of Mozambique (Instituto Nacional de Comunicação de Moçambique - “INCM”) approved complementary and specific measures applicable to the postal and telecommunications services, by way of Resolution no. 1/CA/INCM/2020, of 20 May, that have been in effect since that date, which seek to permit the adoption of the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and National Health Authorities to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
Of the measures adopted, we have highlighted below a few main obligations set by the resolution mentioned above:
a) The INCM shall
- attribute and exempt spectrum provisionally;
- exempt fees for the homologation of telecommunications and radio communications equipment (without prejudice to the obligation to obtain homologation in terms of the law);
- exempt fees for the acquisition of short numbers, provided that these are acquired for purposes of spreading the COVID-19 prevention;
- suspend the cancellation of the postal and telecommunication licences which have expired during the State of Emergency.
b) The telecommunications operators shall
- make internet access available, gratuitously, to the health authorities, including the Ministry of Health, Central Hospitals and public hospitals dedicated to COVID-19 inpatients and treatment;
- refrain from the practice of escalation of telecommunication services tariffs during the State of Emergency;
- ensure free internet access to educational platforms and the websites of educational institutions at a national level;
- suspend the cancellation of non-prepaid services contracts during the State of Emergency;
- guarantee the tracing of persons under quarantine and isolation, when requested to do so by the competent authorities.
c) The postal services operators shall
- ensure the observance of hygiene measures (use of masks, gloves and disinfectant) by their agents during deliveries;
- guarantee the disinfection of deliveries or postal objects before being accepted and sent to their destinations;
- observance of social distancing by their clients at the postal services operators’ agencies.
d) The broadcast operators shall
- refrain from cancelling cards which belong to clients registered to televisions;
- subscription television operators to maintain the national public service television channel when the subscription has been interrupted due to a lack of payment.
We wish to emphasise that the lack of compliance with the measures above and others that may be approved in the context of the State of Emergency shall give rise to the levying of fines, without prejudice to other sanctions that may equally be applied in terms of the relevant legislation. The INCM may issue other instructions at the end of the State of Emergency.
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