Uganda Government has commenced with a search for new investors in Uganda Telecom Ltd after it was proved that the Nigerian Firm it had handed the company to in October 2018 had no technical expertise or financial muscle to run telecom business.
In October 2018, Uganda’s Cabinet handed Uganda Telecoms Ltd (UTL) to a Nigerian firm, Taleology Holdings GIB Ltd, ending a year of controversy and rancorous competition by seven bidders to snap up the state-owned enterprise.
However, Uganda’s State Minister for Investment and Privatization Evelyn Anite told the media in Kampala that they are back to the drawing board to look for new investors after it was proved beyond reasonable doubt that Taleology had no technical expertise or financial muscle to run telecom business.
“Uganda is attracting too many quack investors. Right now, we are back to the drawing board to look for new investors in Uganda telecom limited after the Nigerians we had given it too, proved not worthwhile,” said Anite.
She said calls for bids are ongoing but this time they will carry out thorough due diligence before announcing the new investor.
It is said that Taleology staked $71m (Shs268b) to beat Mauritius Telecom’s $45m (Shs167b)before they could be given permission to takeover UTL.
Mauritius Telecom has around 1.3 million subscribers and 40 per cent of its shares are owned by Orange that sold its Uganda majority stake to Africell Holding in 2014 after doing business in Uganda for only five years.
Mauritius Telecom, which is state founded and owned by the government of Mauritius, was ranked second best in a pack of competitors some of which, such as Safaricom Kenya’s subsidiary Afrinet and adversely named Hamilton, dropped out prematurely.
However, the latest information has it that the Government has offered to waive all the liabilities held by Uganda Telecom Limited (UTL), as one of the attempts to attract a buyer for the company.
This means that the government will be responsible for up to Shs 500 billion of liabilities that UTL had at the time it sunk into administration two years ago. The new investor will only have to invest to overhaul the network because it is obsolete.
Meanwhile, as the search for new investors is ongoing, there are rumours circulating that the Libyan Government, that used to own Uganda Telecom Limited under Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAIP) wants to repossess their assets in Uganda of which UTL is inclusive.
BY PAUL TENTENA