What you need to know:
- Ms Evelyn Anite says that whereas UTL has had a lot of problems, government has worked so hard to save it
State Minister for Privatisation Evelyn Anite has said government is working on a new Uganda Telecom (UTL) that will soon be unveiled.
Responding to Monitor’s inquires in Kampala yesterday, Ms Anite said government, would at the right time, unveil the reforms about UTL, which had been under administration for about five years now.
“We are still working. Why dont you guys (sic) wait for us to unveil the news? Wait for us to first finish our job. The problem is money doesn’t like noise. Uganda Telecom has had a lot of negative energy. It is positive news and we want to unveil it officially,” she said without giving details.
Last week it was reported that government had dissolved UTL and created a new company, under which the multi-billion shilling investments would be operated.
However, Ms Anite could not readily confirm the reports, noting that what she would confirm is “positive news that government is working on UTL”.
“It is positive news. We have been working on UTL. As I can tell you, we have been working on UTL for the last five years. As Minister of Privatization, I have never stopped working on the restructuring of UTL and reviving it. The news I can tell you is that we had been working on salvaging the company and we have finally achieved it. We shall announce to the country our next course of action,” she said.
In 2017, government placed UTL under administration with the view of saving it from going under. The move followed government’s full takeover of UTL after majority shareholder, Libya government-owned UCom unilaterally pulled out of the telecom.
UTL, government said, had been evaluated and it had been found that its liability far outweighed existing assets with a debt believed to be in the region of Shs128b ($34.7m).
UTL, even in administration, has suffered a great deal of fights with some government officials, among them Ms Anite, claiming that there was a ploy to run down the telecom so that its assets can be disposed of cheaply.
Mr Nelson Bemanya, who had been contracted to over the telecom’s administration, was accused of not doing enough to save the telecom.
However, when his contract expired in November 2019, he was replaced by Ruth Sebatindira, the former president of the Uganda Law Society on appointment of the High Court.
The decision followed an application by Uganda Contribution Employees Contributory Pension Scheme, who had sought orders compelling Bemanya to be removed.
Yesterday, Ms Anite told Monitor that Ugandans “can now be happy that the company has not been liquidated”.
“What we were fighting most was that the company [getting to be] liquidated. But we are getting it out of court and it will not be liquidated. As for how and details bear with us we shall notify the country soon.
Mr Morrison Rwakakamba, the Uganda Investment Authority chairman, said it was good news that UTL has been saved, noting that any Ugandan company that is involved in “business is good for the country because it expands competition and consumers will have a choice”.