BOTSWANA’S BTC GOES INTO THE BLACK FOR FIRST TIME IN 4 YEARS
The embattled Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC) has for the first time in four years shown a profit due to corporate restructuring. CEO Noel Herity has announced that the BTC has for the first time since 2000 shown a profit. "We have been making losses over the years and we can now report a profit of P36,2 million," he said.
Herity’s announcement follows turbulent years in which the BTC has struggled to survive. However, a lot of progress has been made and the parastatal has now become a profitable business. "The profit returns the P11 million loss that we suffered last year, Herity pointed out, saying that a financial improvements of some P15 million has been recorded since last year.
"In the last four years there has been no revenue movement and customers were leaving because of the billing problem. However, prospects for the future are good and we are ahead of what we expected," he said. BTC recently hit the headlines because of controversy over the introduction of a P60 million billing system. It has seen several customers receiving wrong bills.
The system has led to an exodus of customers and the situation worsened when the telecommunication industry became liberated and mobile competitors came into the picture and killed the BTC monopoly. "We are currently engaged in a P900 million project to improve our network systems. The project will take time to complete," BTC Board Chairman Wilfred Mandlebe said. He added that government - as an equity holder - has pumped P300 million into the project.
However, on questions of the media why the money was invested in non-core investments, Mandlege said: "We invested the money in the Bank of Botswana (BoB) certificates . "We may be looking at channelling our money to other areas."
Herity revealed that BTC is busy finalising the restructuring exercise that could see more than 600 workers laid off. "The restructuring process is a noble approach and we engaged the trade unions in the process. We will have a 600 staff reduction and their packages will average P150 000. "These figures are better compared to benchmarks in Botswana", he said.
The corporation recently won a court case in which the Manual Workers Union challenged it in the Industrial Court on how the restructuring exercise was conducted. Johnson Motsharakgole of the Workers Union argued that the BTC did not enter into negotiations, but only consulted. "BTC did not follow guidelines government set with parastatals like BTC to negotiate with its employees, and not consult them," Motshwarakgole argued.