Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Reconciling the interests of government, operators and investors was the focus of the Digital Africa Summit, held in Accra, Ghana, from 19 to 21 February 2003. The summit’s theme was ‘Building Digital Opportunities Through Public Private Partnerships’.

High-level participants from throughout the continent attended the summit including ministers of information and communications technologies (ICTs), non-governmental organisations, intergovernmental bodies concerned with ICT, regulators, private sector partners in ICT projects in Africa and finance organisations.

The summit, organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) and hosted by the Ghanaian Government, provided the opportunity to examine several new public-private partnership (PPP) models, where the interests of three establishments intersect: the public sector, in the form of ministers, regulators and representatives of national telecommunications companies; the private sector, in the form of operators and vendors; and the financial services sector. The summit helped to develop greater appreciation among all three parties of each other’s needs and requirements.

"The summit also covered goals of the public sector, such as universal service and rural telephony, as well as what operators require from governments and investors in order to be commercially viable," explained Dr David Souter, Chief Executive of the CTO. "It explored what the financial sector requires in terms of security of investment and the profits that can be obtained. Through summit discussions from all three perspectives, the old PPP structures have gone or are disappearing and new rules are being established."

Another theme to emerge from the summit was that the private sector need not necessarily mean foreign direct investment from multinational operators. The private sector may also include numerous local entrepreneurs who are able to meet market demand.

In his closing summary, Dr David Souter noted that PPP "can help the public and private sectors to work together to achieve commercial success on the one hand and at the same time socio-economic development on the other."