LIBYA FALLOUT FELT IN UGANDA
The Libyan owned, many in fact say Gadaffi owned Uganda Telecom is said to be in serious financial dire straits, allegedly unable to pay interconnection fees to market leader MTN to the tune of 20 billion Uganda Shillings. MTN has now given a termination notice to UTL, effective next Monday 14th March, that no calls from the UTL network will be accepted into the MTN network, while MTN users will also no longer be able to call UTL numbers. This escalation comes amid stronger and stronger speculation about the future of ‘Gadaffi’ owned companies in Uganda and the rest of the continent, as indications grow that the UN’s sanction panel could include such companies into the ‘frozen asset’ list they are drawing up, aimed to financially cripple Libya’s faltering dictator.
As reports from Libya show the result of airstrikes against civilian targets the global pressure to inflict at least for the time being financial pain on Gadaffi and his family’s holdings anywhere around the globe is growing and Uganda companies too could be affected.
UTL, when taken over by the Libyans, was expecting a major capital injection to move their 3G network to 4G standards, expand coverage and extend their market share but found that this was not the case, leaving them in dispute over payment of those interconnection fees for the last three years, now culminating in a termination. A source from within UTL also indicated that they are now no longer expecting any immediate financial relief from the main owners while the civil war was raging and ongoing in Libya.
In a related development have staff of other companies owned by Libyans expressed their ongoing worries, and while conceding that these firms were locally incorporated and could continue operations as if nothing had changed in Libya, still felt that should their main shareholders find their holdings frozen, or board members banned from international travel, they could be in serious trouble until a resolution has been found.
In a further interesting development, connected to a related article last week, it is worth noting that Uganda’s gutter press publication Red Pepper had in a ‘copy/paste’ job taken the article off this correspondent’s blog site, or else taken it from eTN without giving author’s credit and reposted it as ‘By our reporter’ in a blatant case of copyright theft. Needless to say, communications to them were not responded to.
Watch this space.