Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) Chief Executive Officer, Joshua Galeforolwe last week outlined stages that will be taken towards Botswana Telecommunication Corporation's (BTC) privatisation.

Galeforolwe, who was speaking during an ongoing stakeholders' forum on the development of a universal access policy for the communications sector, noted that the first stage would be the selection of Transaction Advisors (TAs), whose role would be to value BTC, develop building diligence and ensure transaction closures at BTC.

Galeforolwe revealed that TAs would be recruited in September this year. With the assistance of PEEPA, TAs and the Public Procurement Asset Disposal Board (PPADB), there would be selection of a strategic partner.

This would be done through the traditional bidding. After identifying a strategic partner, an employee shareholder trust would be formed in which shares would be directed to. "We want to take employees on board as contributors to the investment," he said.

Tendering by strategic equity partners would be June 2007, followed by a subsequent selection of a partner in April 2008. Galeforolwe said that priva tisation stakeholders are currently focused on attracting a world-class telecommunication partner to enhance the contribution of the telecommunication industry.

"Privatisation of BTC creates an opportunity to facilitate development and deepening of capital market," Galeforolwe said, adding that if privatised, BTC's shares would be listed on the Botswana Stock Exchange (BSE) to improve the equity market.

He pointed out that privatisation would also serve as an opportunity to strengthen managerial capabilities at BTC. One of the reasons to privatise Botswana Telecommunication Corporation (BTC) was arrived at to reduce government's financial and operational commitment in the telecommunication sector.

Though government, who announced its intention to sell off between 40 and 49 percent to a strategic equity partner, has not invited bids to tender for BTC's stake, "as it is too early", a number of international telecommunication companies are rumoured to have expressed interest in partnering with BTC. A South African - based Telecommunications Company - Telkom and German-based, Vnet are said to be eyeing a stake in BTC.

Vnet is believed to have vast experience in both fixed line and mobile telephony. Government officials in the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology maintained that it is too early to discuss issues pertaining to BTC's shareholding.

The Reporter