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Uganda: Libyan Partners Abandon Broke Uganda Telecom Ltd

Significant differences emerged between Uganda and Libya during a recent shareholders meeting, leading to a falling out over the troubled Uganda Telecom Ltd, leaving Kampala with the cash-strapped company and no money to turn it around.

The EastAfrican has learnt that the shareholders failed to agree on modalities to raise the capital required to revamp the company. The equally cash-strapped Ugandan government had proposed a debt swap for equity while the Libyan shareholders wanted each partner to inject actual finances into the company.

A preliminary report by a parliamentary select committee that is investigating UTL operations reveals that the company owes the government and private sector entities over Ush700 billion ($197 million).

It owes the sector regulator Uganda Communications Commission Ush22.2 billion ($6.25 million), arising from unpaid spectrum fees, and also owes the Uganda Revenue Authority Ush58.4 billion ($16.4 million) in back payments of pay-as-you-earn, value added tax, withholding tax and excise duty.

"Right now, we need $48 million to take us to another level," said UTL's managing director Mark Shoebridge.

Close to 40 per cent of the required funds will go into upgrading UTL's infrastructure. Its rivals MTN and Airtel are operating 4G technology while UTL still operates on 2G technology.


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