Trade unions and opposition parties have united to oppose plans for Canada’s SaskTel International to take over the management of the country’s sole fixed line operator, the Tanzania Telecommunications Company Ltd (TTCL). The move follows a similar recent rebellion involving state-owned power utility Tanesco, which forced the government to tear up a management contract with a group of expatriates based in South African.
The Tanzanian cabinet is expected to approve the appointment of SaskTel, which is already running a project to upgrade TTCL’s infrastructure. However, critics argue the plan should be scrapped and cite previous failures in running the telco, which they claim will weaken TTCL and eventually destroy it, if allowed to happen again. Tenders for the management of TTCL were advertised openly and seven companies submitted bids. Three firms were short-listed for the prequalification phase – Equity Telecom, Netherland Telecom and SaskTel – but rumours soon leaked out that the Canadians had clinched the deal. Junus Ndaro, the general secretary of the Tewuta union argues that SaskTel is not up to the task and has no track record of handling such a job. ‘This is the same company whose work failed to upgrade TTCL infrastructure – when TTCL was under the management of Mobile Services International (MSI) and Detecon, the consortium of Dutch and Germany firms,’ he said.