Botswana: Government to separate out and retain wholesale operation during BTC privatisation
Botswana’s Minister of Communications, Science and Technology, Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi, has announced that the government plans to exclude Botswana Telecommunications Corporation’s (BTC’s) nationwide backhaul from the incumbent telco’s privatisation process, according to local newspaper Mmegi.
Instead, one option is to create an entity that will be responsible for the backhaul to service all of the country’s telecoms operators including BTC after it has been privatised. On its nationwide network, BTC currently services its wireless arm beMobile, as well as mobile operators Mascom Wireless and Orange Botswana.
At present, BTC is reportedly looking for a strategic equity partner (SEP). Initial privatisation plans emerged in June 2006, envisaging the sale of between 40% and 49% of BTC to a strategic investor and a 5% share to BTC employees. The remaining shares would be retained by the government for a future stock market listing. The first stage of the privatisation began in January 2007, with a tender put out for 'advisory services'. In February 2008 the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) signed a contract with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to act as transactional advisor.
During the first half of 2008 the duo began working on a draft bill to enable BTC to be sold off. The IFC completed due diligence in November that year and the following month the completed Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (Transition) Bill was passed to the committee stage of the parliamentary debate for the third reading.