Botswana Citizens Own Their Telcom In History-Making IPO

Botswana Citizens Own Their Telcom In History-Making IPO

Botswana citizens will be able to own a piece of Botswana Telecommunications, one of the country’s largest government-owned companies, after the approval of an initial public offering, 10 years in the making, BizTechAfrica reports.

The Botswana Telecommunications Corp Ltd. (BTCL) IPO will make history on the Botswana Stock Exchange with this pioneering privatization, said Tshenolo Mabeo, Minister of Transport and Communication, at the IPO launch. “It is the first offer reserved specifically for citizens,” he said.

BTCL provides fixed line, mobile and Internet service.

The government is selling 49 percent of its shares — a total of 352 million shares — to the Batswana public for 1 pula each, according to Mmegi. Telcom workers will be allotted a further 5 percent of shares.

The Botswana currency exchange rate is about 11 pula to $1 US.

This IPO is part of the Botswana government’s drive towards privatization, BizTechAfrica reported.

“We decided to open this offer to citizens as a means to increase direct participation of Batswana in owning more national assets,” Mabeo said. “This is in line with the objectives of our Privatisation Policy. This IPO will contribute significantly to the diversification of our economy.”

Privatizing the Botswana Telecom took several delays and almost a decade of “hard work, sweat, dedication, skill and passion,” Mabeo said. “We are done and ready to offer BTCL shares to citizens of Botswana.”

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So why did it take so long?

New legislation had to be passed enabling the government to offer shares to the public. An
underwriter had to be secured and finalized for a project of this size to ensure that citizens would have time to prepare and participate “in this historic transaction,” Mabeo said.

“This IPO is a melting pot of the rich history of Botswana,” Mabeo said. “It will open new avenues through its unique citizen­-centric design. It has challenged (the) status quo through its design for uptake by a wide spectrum of citizens and 100-percent citizen owned businesses from all walks of life across Botswana.

“It is a historic feat … that will help many Batswana take their first steps towards shareholding as a method of wealth creation for their futures and that of their children.”

The goal of the IPO is to improve the efficiency, productivity and competiveness of services and infrastructure by the public sector, according to an online prosepctus.

The Botswana Telcom is valued at 800 million pula ($72.15 million) according to the Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency, Mmegi reported.