Kampala. MTN has said it is not under any pressure to list on the stock exchange, arguing the telecom is a private company and has not received any instructions in that regard.
Speaking in an interview, a source at MTN familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because he is not authorised to comment about it, said they are not aware of any condition that has been put forward in regard to renewing their 20-year licence that is due to expire in October.
The process of renewing the licence, he said, is on track, noting that there was no problem in that area because the company has a 10-year renewal guarantee.
However, he said, the company was cognizant of the fact that different suggestions will be made during the process by both government and other stakeholders.
In an interview, Mr Val Okecho, the MTN communications manager, told Daily Monitor they had not formally or informally received any communication from the regulator requiring the telecom to list as a prerequisite for renewal of its licence.
“We have not received [any communication to list on the stock exchange] as a condition for the renewal of our licence. We only read about these things in media,” he said.
In June, Finance Minister Matia Kasaija, told participants during the 8th National Competitiveness Forum that his Ministry would table a policy paper before Cabinet seeking mandatory listing of all telecoms.
“I am going to table a memo in Cabinet next week (in June) which seeks to make all telecoms and privatised public companies list [sell shares to Ugandans],” he said, noting that other companies such as Uganda Grain Milling Company, Kakira Sugar Works, Tororo Cement, Lake Victoria Hotel and Apollo Hotel now Sheraton Kampala Hotel, among others would be required to list.
Daily Monitor could not immediately establish the status of Mr Kasaija’s policy paper as he was reportedly away in China.
Uganda has three privately-owned telecoms including MTN, Airtel and Africell.
A report filed by Bloomberg, a news website, has last month indicated that MTN was being pressured to list on the stock exchange pending renewal of its licence.
However, Mr Okecho said there had been no such pressure even as the telecom was oblivious of considerations to list on the Uganda Securities Exchange.
“We are aware that following successful listings by MTN in Ghana and Nigeria, the call for MTN Uganda to follow suit has never been clearer. It is [actually] under consideration,” he said.
Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, the Uganda Communications Commission executive director, early this week told Daily Monitor they will hold discussions on the issue (listing on the exchange) with the telecom during licence renewal.
“It is [going to be] part of the discussions that will be taking place during licence renewal,” he said but did not indicate whether it will be mandatory for all telecoms to list.
Ms Sumin Namaganda, the Airtel communications manager told Daily Monitor yesterday they had not received any communication to requiring them to list on the Uganda Securities Exchange.
Requirement of new licencing regime
The new licencing regime will also require telecoms to have base stations in every parish as well as ensuring that Uganda is 100 per cent covered with 3G network access.
However, telecoms have already indicated that this will impact their business operations because it is an expensive affair yet it does not make business sense to have coverage in some areas.
The new licencing regime seeks to enable Uganda Communications Commission to implement the National Roaming Services plan that allows users to be hosted on other telecom’s network in areas where a particular telecom has no coverage.
“I am going to table a memo in Cabinet next week (in June) which seeks to make all telecoms and privatised public companies list [sell shares to Ugandans],” ”
Mr Matia Kasaija, Finance Minister.
“It is [going to be] part of the discussions that will be taking place during licence renewal,”
Mr Godfrey Mutabazi, Uganda Communications Commission executive director.
“We have not received [any communication] in that regard [to list on the stock exchange] as a condition for the renewal of our licence,”
Mr Val Okecho, MTN communications manager