The Parliamentary Committee on Communications Works, Transport and Technology has declared that the partnership between Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Liquid Telecom is unlawful.
At a public hearing held this week at the Parliament buildings, the committee, headed by Ramotswa legislator, Samuel Rantuana, questioned the logic behind the joint venture, which allows Liquid Telecom to be granted the use of BPC’s infrastructure.
This came during the interrogation of Botswana Fibre Networks (BoFiNet) chief executive officer, Mabua Mabua who had mentioned that the state-owned power corporation has entered into a joint venture with the pan-African telecoms group, Liquid Telecom resulting in the formation of a new telecoms network provider called Liquid Telecom Botswana.
BPC owns and operates an optical fibre cable network that is embedded on some of its high voltage transmission lines.
Mabua had mentioned that the BPC board of directors approved the commercialisation of its network in March 2016, adding that Liquid Telecom was selected as the preferred partner through competitive bidding.
“This was done in order to provide network services across the country,” he stated. However, Mabua indicated that the newly established Liquid Telecom Botswana is now competing with players such as BoFiNet in the highly competitive telecoms network industry.
This was met with the strongest criticism from one of the Parliamentary Committee members. Specially Elected legislator, Mephato Reatile asserted that the joint venture between BPC and Liquid Telecom was illegal. BoFiNet, which is a 100% government-owned company, is a wholesale provider of national and international telecommunication infrastructure.
Reatile said as legislators, they are going to exercise their duty and look into the joint venture of BPC and Liquid Telecom, noting that the deal was carried out at the expense of the taxpayers.
“We need to raise this issue in our next sitting of Parliament because this partnering of BPC with this Liquid company is totally unacceptable,” he said.
Reatile further noted that the partnership was a disservice to the citizens as they deserve to know every decision that is taken with regard to the country’s infrastructure including telecommunication network.
The deal between BPC and Liquid Telecom was penned by the former power corporation’s CEO, Jacob Raleru and his counterpart, Nic Rudnick in Gaborone late last year.
The lease of BPC’s excess optical fibres from its network to Liquid Telecom Botswana was granted under an Indefeasible Right of Use Agreement (IRUA).