Employees worried by Gabon Telecom privatisation

14 Aug 2006

Government plans to privatise and restructure state-run telco Gabon Telecom have left many employees disgruntled and worried, according to online newspaper Angola Press. The restructuring, including the axing of staff in certain areas of the company, has reportedly contributed to a drop in the quality of services, whilst workers are unhappy with the level of redundancy payouts under a social plan negotiated in 2004. In January the government announced the launch of the privatisation of the incumbent fixed line operator, offering a 51% stake to international corporate and institutional investors. Under the privatisation offer, Telecom will be granted a five-year fixed line monopoly as part of a new fifteen-year operating licence. Its 100%-owned wireless division Libertis will keep its current GSM mobile licence, granted in 2000, with ten years left to run. The open tender is going ahead despite protests from Gabon’s postal workers’ union, which opposes both the telecoms sell-off and a parallel state move to liquidate the loss-making Gabon Poste postal agency. An attempt to sell Gabon Telecom in August 2002 failed, despite attracting interest from several international players, and in July 2003 a second effort to sell off a 35% stake bundled with a management contract attracted at least five bidders. Negotiations were dragged out into the middle of 2004 but the government again failed to clinch a deal with any of the parties.