Tanzania’s fixed-line phone monopoly TTCL said on Monday last week it hopes a dispute between its major shareholders would be resolved quickly, enabling it to borrow funds to expand and upgrade its network. The Tanzanian government is trying to end a stalemate with foreign investors over outstanding payments for a stake in the Tanzania Telecommunication Co Ltd (TTCL). TTCL’s Executive Director Jones Killimbe told Reuters he hoped the dispute would be resolved quickly because it had delayed the company’s plans to expand and modernise its network.

"It has affected us because major programmes could not take place. If two investors are having disagreements it is not good," Killimbe told Reuters in Kenya’s capital Nairobi at a gathering for major players in east Africa’s regional telephone industry.

He said banks were reluctant to lend to TTCL as long as the dispute was ongoing and undermining the company’s ability to invest and improve on its service provision. TTCL hoped to inject around $100 million in new investment to introduce a new generation network and expand transmission infrastructure to the rural areas.

The company had invested $250 million in its five-year business programme ending 1999. The company has improved its network which is about 80 percent digital but hopes to inject more funds to replace its analogue system. It has 165,000 connected customers but was said demand for telephone lines among the country’s more than 30 million people was much higher. Killimbe said he was encouraged because the two shareholders had agreed to negotiate out of court.