Telecom Namibia is embroiled in a multi-million-dollar international law Suit involving a Botswana registered telecommunications company - Africa Telecommunications (Afritel). Telecom is Namibia's only landline operated Company and a shareholder in the country's only mobile communications company, MTC.

Afritel has declared a dispute with Telecom involving millions of US dollars For breach of contract. The amount, according to some sources has been put at USD23 million. Both companies last week confirmed the dispute between them but could not disclose any details.

Other sources have it that the two declared a dispute after the two companies entered into an agreement for the purchase of some equipment, including voice and data transmitters. The two parties signed a contract to this effect in 2003.

A source at the Botswana company told New Era yesterday on inquiry that the dispute involved "a large amount of money. Many, many millions of US dollars."

Telecom Namibia's legal advisor Liezel van Wyk also confirmed that there was a dispute between the two telecommunication companies, but would not disclose any more information as this might jeopardise the case.

But when contacted for comment, Telecom's managing director Frans Ndoroma said the case was not in the public interest and in addition to this, the board had made a decision not to make information about the dispute public at this stage. Without acknowledging that his company was indeed involved in the dispute, Ndoroma said the matter was sub judice because both sides have legal representation working on the case.

New Era has it on good authority that Telecom offered USD3 million as settlement but the Botswana company reportedly turned down the offer.

The dispute has not gone to a civil court and instead legal arbitration has been instituted. According to the Botswana official, the hearing has now been postponed to next year either end of January or early February, after a session to settle the dispute, which was held in July this year. The dispute is said to have been declared in 2004.

New Era