Government assumes control of Guine Telecom and Guinetel

15 May 2008

The government of Guinea-Bissau in West Africa has taken management control of national fixed line operator Guine Telecom and its mobile arm Guinetel, amid accusations that Portugal Telecom (PT) has effectively walked away from the two companies. In a statement the government said: ‘with the prolonged absence of PT and its refusal to call together the governing bodies of Guine Telecom and Guinetel, abandonment has been confirmed.’ It went on to say that it had rejected a call from the Portuguese firm to sell its stake in the GSM operator to a buyer of its own choice. The Prime Minister, Martinho N’Dafa Cabi, has now instructed the Transport and Communication Ministry and the Ministry for Economy to find potential buyers for both telcos. Guine Telecom and Guinetel are both majority-owned by the Guinean government and are experiencing serious technical and financial difficulties. Portugal Telecom Internacional (PTI) bought a stake in Guine Telecom 1989, but its decision to leave the country in June 1998, at the outbreak of the civil war forced the state to retake control of the operator, leaving the Portuguese company’s assets in limbo. As it stands, the government is understood to control 50% of the operator, PTI has 40% and the remaining 10% is held by employees.

Guinea-Bissau, Guinetel