BTCL employees not ready to buy shares

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Privatisation of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation Limited privatisation is nearing completion but employees still do not have the funds to buy the five percent of shares allocated to them.

Speaking to Monitor Business BTCL Workers Union member, Kewetse Busumane said most employees cannot afford to buy shares and they are not even sure how the process is going to work for them.

“ Most employees cannot afford to buy the shares. Maybe the top management employees are the only ones who can afford but finances limit most of us.

 “Management has addressed us but they are still not sure about a lot of things.  We have been told that the government is responsible for providing information to us but the government also says we have to deal with our management.

We have talked to the management and written letters to the Public Enterprise Evaluation Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) and the Ministry of Transport and Communications but nobody has given us a concrete answer on how we are going to participate in this IPO”, he said. Under the BTCL Initial public offer (IPO), the government is selling 49 percent of its shares to the public, of which five percent has been reserved for BTC employees.

BTCL Public Relations Manager, Golekanye Molapise said BTCL management has briefed the workers Union and staff on how the company is proposing to assist them to participate in the IPO. “Consideration is being given to salary and gratuity advances. BTCL management is also in discussions with commercial banks to advance loans to employees to enable them to buy shares,” said Molapise.

He said there has also been communication to staff through internal communications channels where all employees are made aware of spot announcements and major decisions concerning the IPO specifically.

“A detailed road show and media schedule will be available as soon as all logistics are in place to further enhance and raise public awareness on how to participate in the BTCL IPO”, he said.

Addressing the media last year, Legal advisor, Rizwan Desai said the BTCL IPO is a difficult process as it is a government project and involves two ministries, the Ministry of Transport and Communications and the ministry of Finance and Development Planning therefore the process requires extensive work and it takes time to process the required information. “This is a large corporation, it is a process, there are steps that need to be achieved so it needs time,” he said. Desai explained that when the employee leaves the corporation he would just be paid dividends and ceases to be a shareholder.  Desai explained that a share allocation strategy would be put in place to ensure that all citizens are given equal opportunity to buy shares. The BTCL IPO date has undergone a series of postponements. According to the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the latest deferral to December 31st was made after some members of the public said they were either not financially ready or didn’t have enough information about the public offer.

BTCL was formed ahead of the separation of the incumbent operator, Botswana Telecommunications Corporations (BTC) into two entities incorporated under the companies Act, being BTCL and Botswana Fiber Networks (BoFiNet) which is wholly owned by the government.

Implementation of BTC’s privatisation commenced immediately after Cabinet approved the privatisation strategy in June 2006.

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