Eskom Enterprise Division, one of six shareholders in South Africa’s start-up second national operator (SNO), says it is confident that the new telco will have customers making calls over its network by Christmas. Eskom director Brian Dames told CityPress that the SNO partners were close to finalising shareholder agreements and a business plan, and would be applying to telecoms regulator Icasa for its operating licence by the end of this month.
South Africa’s fixed line market it currently dominated by Telkom SA and the government is keen to introduce a competitor, but its attempts to launch an SNO have dragged on for years. It eventually approved the operator’s shareholders in January, but it was not until March that the six parties finally sat down to formulate a business plan after black empowerment group Nexus Connexion, which owns a 19% stake in the venture, withdrew its application for a judicial review into the licensing process. Nexus had applied for the injunction over concerns that the Telecoms Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri had exceeded her authority in awarding shares in the SNO to Two Consortium and CommuniTel. Both groups had come up short in their applications for a controlling stake in the new operator but were nonetheless awarded 12.5% each in the SNO. India’s Tata Group is a strategic equity partner in the business.