Kampala — Government is searching for a fresh investor to take up Uganda Telecom's (UTL) operations after parting ways with Taleology, a Nigerian telecom company.
According to the State Minister of Finance for Investment and Privatisation, Ms Evelyn Anite, the Cabinet is now looking for a new investor to take up UTL after the Nigerian telecommunication firm proved incapable of honouring its part of the bargain.
In October last year, the Cabinet handed UTL to Taleology Holdings GIB Ltd, bringing an end to a cut throat competition for the state-owned telecom now branding itself as an information and communication technology network.
Speaking during the inauguration of the Uganda Investment Authority Board yesterday Ms Anite told the new board headed by Mr Emely Kugonza to beware of fake investors, stressing that their (the board's) relevance will be judged by the credibility and quality of investors (and investment) they will attract into the country.
She also revealed that the Cabinet and the Nigerian firm have broken ranks, cautioning the new board against the dangers of dealing with quack investors.
Ms Anite, whose earlier fears seemed to have been eventually confirmed, while referring to the cabinet decision to hand over UTL to Taleology, said: "I told them!"
She continued: "They were not the right investors. Now we are back to the drawing board, looking for a new investor."
She said Taleology didn't honour its part of the deal which was to make a non-refundable 10 per cent payment. In this case, $7m (Shs26b) within a month from date of offer and then pay up the balance, three months later.
"It is over six months now and they have not even deposited a coin. This means they are financially incapable. I am grateful that I raised the red flag. So we are looking for a right person to take over UTL including even a local investor. We cannot afford to see 500 of our people unemployed," she said in a sideline interview.
Under the deal, Taleology would own 67 per cent shares while the government remains a minority shareholder.
Then, although Taleology was found to be the fittest company to take over UTL, Ms Anite believed that the state-founded Mauritius Telecom was the most qualified for UTL's operations to be handed to.
Daily Monitor understands that Taleology then staked $71m (Shs268b) against Mauritius Telecom's $45m (Shs167b).
Libya pulls out
UTL formerly under Libyan Government ownership through UCOM Ltd went under after the Libyan government, who were the majority shareholders, pulled out of the troubled telecom.
The Libyan government had a 69 per cent stake in UTL while the government of Uganda held 31 per cent.
To prevent its liquidation, the government scrambled and placed the telecom under the administration of Registrar General Bemanya Twebaze, whose task was to normalise and identify a potential investor to rescue the telecom company from its struggles, thanks to more than Shs500b debt accumulated over time.
This was worsened by the Political insurgencies that befell the Libyan government in the wake of the Arab Spring.
After attempts to find a suitable suitor from at least 17 investors who have since shown interest to take over UTL, there is still nothing to write home about, considering that the government is back in square, hunting for a new investor.
New UIA board
Meanwhile, Ms Anite has launched a UIA board after reducing its numbers from 13 to seven.
The board which she tasked to create one million jobs annually will be headed by Mr Kugonza.
The board members whom Ms Anite described as competent enough, include: Ms Obombassa Naima, Mr Morrison Rwakakamba, Ms Gertrude Lutaaya, Mr Godfrey Byamukama and Mr Joshua Mutambi.
February 2017. Libyan investors UCOM Ltd withdraw and five directors resign from UTL.
April 2017. Government places the telecom under administration of the Registrar General.
October 2017: The administer solicits bids from potential buyers.
January 2018. Government calls for expression of interest for acquisition of UTL.
April 2018. Expected announcement of winner fails, instead Hamilton Telecom Afrinet introduced as additional bidders.
June 2018. Financial Intelligence Agency investigates seven evaluated bidders after Afrinet withdrew, ranking Taleology the best.
October 2018. Cabinet chaired by President Museveni hands over UTL to the Nigerian firm.