BTC TRANSFORMATION YIELDING RESULTS

Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has increased its profit to a record P138.9 million, representing a 17.7 percent revenue growth from P118.1 million the previous year.

"Our aim is to achieve a target in the range of 18 to 20 percent," said the corporation's chairman, Leonard Makwinja. "BTC is now more confident about its opportunities than at any time in recent years. It is aggressively pursuing new growth opportunities."

The BTC, which is to be privatised by the first quarter of next year, has been pursuing its business and transformation strategy geared at making it the communication company of choice.

"We fully recognise that because of the Internet, the telecommunications industry is in dramatic transition and will continuously undergo transformations in order to ensure a new kind of company emerges, built on a converged and next generation intelligent network platform to stimulate its future growth," said Makwinja.

BTC chief executive, Vincent Seretse, said the growth in revenue is an indication that the transformation process of BTC is yielding results. Revenue for the fixed line operator is up by 7.4 percent to P739.1 million, with earnings per share of Thebe 660 up 17.7 percent.

"The improvement in profitability was attributable to new revenue streams such as ADSL, growth in data services and better management of customer accounts," he said. The corporations also said the liberalisation of the telecommunications sector would allow it to increase its product ranges including mobility of customers.

"The BTC believes the privatisation will bring many benefits for the Corporation and the country in general, in that it will allow the Corporation to function along the same lines as other private licensed (mobile) operators without too many bureaucratic controls. This will definitely unleash some of BTC's true potential," he said.

Although admitting that liberalisation would bring competition, Makwinja warned that such competition would only succeed if it were to take place on a "level playing field with all service providers treated by regulators in a similar way."

"We also believe that a fair and predictable regulatory regime is vital for the development of telecommunications services in Botswana," Makwinja said. He also welcomed the timetable for the corporation's privatisation.

"This is a welcome development given the fact that BTC is to be privatised in an environment which would have one of the few open and liberalised telecommunications markets in Africa," he said. He added that privatisation would also create opportunities for expertise and access to financial markets.

Meanwhile, the BTC was last week voted the overall winner in the awards for best corporate report and accounts. The awards, by Price Waterhouse, which are held under the auspices of BOCCIM, are meant to encourage Botswana businesses to improve the standard of financial reporting and ensure that their published financial statements comply with international accounting standards and statutory disclosure requirements in terms of corporate governance.

The financial institutions sector was won by Botswana Insurance Holdings Limited, while Commerce and Industry went to the Botswana Development Corporation; the non-profit sector was won by the Motor Vehicle Accident Fund and the best designer category went to Optimum McCann-Erikson.

Mmegi/The Reporter