Govt to own 49pc Airtel shares as dividend rate talks continue

ONGOING discussions between the government and the Indian company, Bharti Airtel, over the ownership of Airtel Tanzania, have started yielding positive results as Tanzania will now own 49 per cent stake in the telecoms company. 

Being the majority shareholder, Bharti Airtel will now own 51 per cent of the telecoms company from 60 per cent shares it acquired earlier. 

That was revealed by the Chairman of Bharti Airtel, Sunil Mittal, yesterday after meeting with President John Magufuli at the State House in Dar es Salaam, where they discussed the development of the ongoing discussions regarding the ownership of the telecoms company. 

Early last year, President John Magufuli formed a committee under the tutelage of Constitution and Legal Affairs Minister, Prof Palamagamba Kabudi, to engage Bharti Airtel in discussions on ownership of Airtel Tanzania. 

This was aimed at reaching an amicable accord that will see both Tanzania government and Bharti Airtel benefiting and eventually strengthening the country’s communication sector. 

During their talks Mr Mittal informed President Magufuli that his company has agreed to add the shares owned by Tanzanian government in Airtel Tanzania from 40 per cent to 49 per cent, thus reducing Bharti Airtel shareholding from 60 to 51 per cent. 

The telecoms boss said that the ongoing discussions between his company and the government were progressing well and Bharti Airtel was satisfied with agreement reached by both sides in improving the company’s telecommunication services. 

President Magufuli expressed his satisfaction over the step reached in the ongoing discussion, of which apart from increasing the shares the company has also agreed to provide dividend to Tanzanian government soon after concluding the talks.” 

“Other issues for finalising the talks will proceed today … but the good thing is that they have agreed to provide dividend to the government, which we missed for eight to ten years. They will also today discuss the percentage of the dividend …this is a great start for building good rapport between the company and the government.” 

Before formation of the committee, the Minister for Finance and Planning, Dr Philip Mpango, submitted a report to President Magufuli on the controversial ownership of the telecoms company. 

Upon submission of the report, Dr Mpango said the government had proved beyond reasonable doubt that the privatisation of Tanzania Telecommunications Company Limited. 

TTCL (now TTCL Corporation) to Celtel, Zain and now Airtel was marred by serious irregularities.

The Minister argued that the government, which owns 40 per cent of the telecom’s shares decided to initiate discussions with Airtel Tanzania over the matter.

It was after the outcome of the Minister’s probe report that, the President formed the Kabudi led team to initiate negotiations that will come up with the mutual verdict for all parties. Bharti Airtel requested that negotiations be made after the Minister presented the report findings to the Head of State.

It all began with Dr Magufuli revealing that the deal was stinking, dubious and unfair, directing the Finance and Planning Minister to investigate it. A day later, TTCL Board and Management convened a press conference to spill the beans.

At a news conference that was convened at TTCL headquarters in Dar es Salaam, fresh details emerged over the controversial ownership of Airtel Tanzania Limited, with TTCL revealing how an official within the TTCL board failed Tanzanians.

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Author: DAILY NEWS Reporter

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