The government of Tanzania is reportedly still ‘finalising’ its full takeover of the national PTO Tanzania Telecommunication Company Limited (TTCL), some five months after it emerged that it was negotiating terms for the acquisition of Bharti Airtel’s 35% stake in the operator. In May this year TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate cited a parliamentary statement from Deputy Minister for Communication, Science and Technology, January Makamba, who said: ‘Legal procedures are now being finalised for the government to buy back Airtel’s shares in TTCL and regain sole ownership of the company.’ With Makamba confident that the deal will ‘rescue the company’, the stake has been valued at around TZS14.6 billion (USD6.9 million), and will supplement the state’s existing 65% stake in the telco, giving it full control. Previously, in November 2014 Bharti Airtel rejected a TZS5 billion offer from the government, with the Indian firm said to be holding out for TZS21.5 billion at that time. However, Bharti went on to modify its demands, and agreed to sell its stake in February this year.
Once completed, TTCL hopes to have a free hand to realise the potential of developing ICT access in Tanzania. TTCL manager Kamugisha Kazaura notes that the company already provides connectivity to five neighbouring countries, namely: Rwanda, Zambia, Uganda, Burundi and Malawi. Although the PTO has a broad international presence, its national network infrastructure is rated as problematic, with little or no coverage in rural areas.