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IFC to Advise on Privatization of Botswana Telecommunications Corporation


In Johannesburg
Houtan Bassiri
Phone:  +27 11 731 3179
E-mail:
HBassiri@ifc.org


Gaborone, January 31, 2008— IFC will advise the government of Botswana on increasing private sector participation in the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation, reducing telecommunications charges and extending telephone coverage. IFC is a member of the World Bank Group.

IFC will work with Botswana’s Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) on securing a strategic equity partner to invest in and operate the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation and introducing further policy measures to liberalize the telecommunications industry. The privatization of the telecommunications provider is in line with Botswana’s broader strategy to increase private sector participation in the economy.

The signing ceremony for the advisory mandate was held in Johannesburg and was attended by senior representatives from IFC, the Botswana of Ministry of Communications Science and Technology, PEEPA, and the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation.

“Increased private sector participation in the economy is important for Botswana’s continued economic growth,” said Joshua Galeforolwe, CEO of Botswana’s Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency. “IFC brings a combination of global experience in corporate finance and privatization as well as working with governments to implement economic reforms, especially in the telecommunications sector,” he said.

The Botswana Telecommunications Corporation was established in 1980, initially as the country’s sole telecommunication services provider and sector regulator. The government subsequently established an independent regulator, Botswana Telecommunications Authority, for the sector and ended BTC’s monopoly, except in the fixed network and voice services market segments. The government has further liberalized the sector by issuing service-neutral licenses and has opened the international gateways to other service providers. The privatization of BTC is the next step in the liberalization of the sector.

“IFC wants to deliver global expertise that will help ensure a public-private partnership that attracts private sector investment in infrastructure, helping meet the needs of a growing economy and improving services, especially for people who need them most,” said Dorothy Berry, IFC Vice President for Human Resources, Communications, and Administration.

IFC’s involvement will support further private sector participation in the country’s telecommunication sector with the aim of advising government on the best strategy to attract private sector investment into the Botswana Telecommunications Corporation.  The objective of involving the private sector is to transform BTC into a modern, efficient service provider that can compete with other players in the country’s newly liberalized telecommunications market.

BTC offers fixed-line services and is yet to commence mobile services. Botswana’s mobile telecommunications market already has a penetration rate of approximately 70 percent, one of the highest in Africa. But many rural areas and poor segments of the population still lack service.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through syndications and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

About PEEPA
The Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency is an independent agency of the Botswana government set up to advise on privatization and the monitor the performance of state-owned enterprises. It was established in 2001 as a company limited by guarantee to oversee the implementation of the Privatization Policy for Botswana.