Government separating MTC and Telecom Namibia ownership

3 Oct 2014

Namibia’s ICT minister Joel Kaapanda has confirmed to The Namibian newspaper that the government has finalised a decision on severing the state ownership links between incumbent telco/mobile operator Telecom Namibia and dominant cellco Mobile Telecommunications (MTC), via the dissolution of the two companies’ mutual shareholder Namibia Post & Telecommunications Holdings (NPTH). Kaapanda said the resolution to scrap the state investment holding and redistribute its properties and liabilities was voted on ‘a few months ago’ by the cabinet, although the details of the process are still being discussed. The minister also indicated that the 66% stake in MTC currently held by NPTH will be transferred to the Ministry of Information & Communication Technology, while MTC has been told it must buy back its headquarters from NPTH. Speaking to the paper on 1 October 2014, the minister added that an audit firm to handle the process must yet be chosen by an NPTH committee, although he predicted that the ownership severance should be carried out by ‘early next year’. Secretary to the cabinet, Frans Kapofi, also confirmed to The Namibian the decision to dismantle NPTH. The question of where the state will transfer ownership of Telecom Namibia was not mentioned in the report.

TeleGeography notes that wholly state-owned Telecom Namibia’s takeover of mobile operator Powercom (Leo) received final approval in November 2012, but due to the merger reducing the cellular market to two state-controlled players, the Namibia Competition Commission imposed a condition that the shareholding structure of Telecom Namibia and MTC must be ‘separate and independent within two years’. Meanwhile, as reported recently by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, the other 33% stake in MTC, held by Africatel, has been put up for sale by Africatel’s Brazilian/Portuguese majority owners Oi/Portugal Telecom.