Saturday, 16 February 2019
Saturday, 16 February 2019 15:42

MTN Uganda CEO deported, what you need to know

He becomes the fourth employee of the company to be deported in the last month.

The CEO of South African multinational telecommunications company MTN in Uganda, Wim Vanhelleput, was deported on Thursday evening, February 14.

He becomes the fourth employee of the company to be deported in the last month as the government piles pressure on MTN to list on the local bourse and renegotiates its operating licence after 20 years.

Authorities have not given clear reasons for the deportations.

Prior to markets opening in Johannesburg on Friday, February 15, MTN issued a statement saying it had not been notified of the grounds for the move.

The company’s group CEO, Rob Shuter, met with President Yoweri Museveni on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos in January. Not much was revealed about what they spoke about, but The East African quoted the president as having said: “It is important that you float shares on the local stock exchange to allow for local ownership now that the licence has been renewed.”

The newspaper also reports that the presidency issued a statement on January 23 stating that the dispute over the renewal of the licence had been resolved and MTN had agreed to “spread its ownership to more Ugandans through a share placement with the National Social Security Fund”. However, this statement was not available on the State House website to confirm it and matters have clearly not been resolved.

It appears Mr Museveni is taking a leaf out of Tanzanian President John Magufuli’s book by forcing international companies to list on the stock exchange and playing hardball with the renegotiation of agreements. However, the rhetoric around events in Uganda is distinct from what we have seen in Tanzania.

MTN has been characterised as a ‘security threat’ whereas in Tanzania multinationals are characterised as greedy companies that hinder development.

These different narratives speak to the sources of legitimacy for the leaders in each country – in Tanzania Mr Magufuli gets his legitimacy from being clean and bringing development, so his enemies must be greedy and hinder that aim.

In Uganda, Mr Museveni draws his legitimacy from having brought stability and security, so his enemies must want incitement to violence and instability.

In July last year, MTN’s data centre was raided, reportedly by intelligence services, an employee was taken and held for four hours and four of its servers were disconnected. MTN subsequently laid a case of illegal intrusion against those involved, but there has been no news of the case since.

In a letter on the incident, MTN wrote: “We are yet to determine the extent of interruption to our network activities and the financial impact. It is also possible that some data have been tempered with or illegally accessed and taken from the premise (sic). The intrusion into the data was properly captured by our closed-circuit television (CCTV cameras),” – so it seems they would have solid evidence to support their case.

Local newspaper The Observer reported that one of the recent deportees, Italian Elsa Mussolini (former general manager for mobile finance services), stated that she was ejected from the country for inciting violence and funding opposition member of Parliament (MP) Robert Kyagulanyi (Bobi Wine). The funding reportedly took place during the campaign against the proposed social media tax that the MP led.

There is clearly a lot going on between MTN and the Ugandan government: licence renewals, stock exchange listings, data centre raids, opposition politician funding, incitement to violence allegations, social media and mobile money taxes, and possibly access to data on citizens.

Aggressive moves against multinationals on the continent are not a new phenomenon – MTN has had its fair share of difficulties lately in Nigeria too.

Taking on international companies makes leaders look good, at least in the eyes of some local citizens, but we also may be seeing a more regional phenomenon with Mr Magufuli’s approach emboldening his neighbours.

The events do not bode well. With Mr Museveni facing mounting challenges to his over three-decade rule in the run-up to elections in 2021, we could see more erratic policies and fiery rhetoric over the next couple years.



CNBC Africa

Published in Telecoms

South Africa and Turkey have pledged to support Ghana’s Aviation sector to ensure it met world class standards.

They would offer technical advice, help train pilots, and share experiences among other things to deepen the ties between the countries.

This came to light when Madam Lulu Xingwana, South Africa’s High Commissioner to Ghana, and Dr Ozlem Ergun Ulueren, Turkey’s Ambassador, paid courtesy calls on Mr Joseph Kofi Adda, the Minister of Aviation, in Accra on Friday.

Dr Ulueren said Turkish Airlines, one of the biggest in the world, flew to 300 destinations and would support Ghana to strengthen her Aviation sector, especially as Turkey had opened the New Istanbul Airport.

She said Ghana had attached importance to improving the relationship between the two countries, thus, Turkey would not only provide capacity building for Ghanaian pilots but also train the Aviation staff to effectively deliver.

Dr Ulueren said Turkey had also invested 500 million dollars in areas including construction adding that Turkey and Ghana would build partnerships in tourism and agriculture, which would benefit both countries.

She welcomed public opinions to make the airline industry better whilst urging Ghanaians to take advantage of a promo introduced to explore Turkey.

Madam Lulu, on her part, said South Africa was involved in the development of the Kotoka International Airport Terminal 3 and would continue to offer advice, service and train young pilots to expand the Ghanaian Aviation sector.

She said South African Airlines (SAA) is working in collaboration with the African World Airlines (AWA), which flew to Lagos, Free Town, Liberia, Cote d’Ivoire among other areas to make it possible for Ghanaians in regions other than the Greater Accra to fly directly to those destinations.

She said SAA was adding another flight from Ghana to Washington and willing to share skills, expertise and assist in training air personnel to strengthen AWA and SAA’s relationship.

Mr Adda, who received the two visitors, appealed to them to support in the establishment of a pilot training academy and assist in getting back Ghana’s airline.

Turkey should also aid Ghana in constructing its regional airports as well as develop airport cities with standardized infrastructure, he said.

A Memoranda of Understanding was signed to formalise their relationship.


Published in Travel & Tourism

South Africa has provisionally withdrawn an arrest warrant for Ajay Gupta, a businessman and friend of former president Jacob Zuma, in a corruption case, police said.

The case against Gupta relates to allegations made by former deputy finance minister Mcebisi Jonas, who said that a member of the Gupta family offered him the job of finance minister and a large bribe if Jonas would help the Gupta family with its business ventures in South Africa.

The Guptas have denied any wrongdoing.

“The warrant for Ajay Gupta was provisionally withdrawn,” said Hangwani Mulaudzi, a spokesman for the Hawks police unit. “But it can be reinstated.”


- Reuters

Published in Economy

A US$3 billion platinum deal between Zimbabwe and Russia is now mired in controversy after it emerged this week that the funding for the project will come from African Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank) institutions and African Finance Corporation.

Sources in the mining sector told businessdigest this week that the platinum mining venture will not be financed by Russian capital.

According to sources, government entered into a memoranda of understanding between Afreximbank and Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Ltd concerning the Darwendale Platinum Group Metals Project in Zimbabwe.

Another memorandum of understanding was signed between the African Finance Corporation and Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Ltd for the Darwendale Platinum Mining Project.

"This deal is going to be funded by African money. All this talk about Russia financing this deal is just propaganda. The question we ought to ask is obviously around whether Zimbabwe needs Russia to get funding on this particular deal," a source said. "Government has basically given away platinum rights to the Russians for no monetary value."

The disclosures have brought into question Russia's contribution to the deal.

Sources say government could have gotten funding from Afreximbank and African Finance Corporation.

Great Dyke Investments chairperson Hesphina Rukato said she expected financial closure on the deal by June. 

"Working financial closure is expected to be in June and then we expect construction is going to start in July," Rukato said before requesting questions in writing last week.
At the time of going to print, Rukato had not responded to enquiries sent to her via email last week.

Rukato accompanied President Emmerson Mnangagwa on a trip to Russia last month that saw the signing of the controversial deal.

In a report back on Mnangagwa's state visit to Russia, Belarus, Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan last month, Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa confirmed agreements had been signed with Afreximbank and Africa Finance Corporation but did not elaborate on the actual details.

Mines minister Winston Chitando confirmed agreements with the two financial institutions had been signed, but said he did not have specifics on the deal.

"I don't have actual specifics but I know that Great Dyke entered into an agreement with the financiers and they have two separate agreements. You would need specifics from Dr Rukato," he said.

Asked what the Russians were bringing to the table, he said he did not have actual details of the deals.

"There is no project, especially one of this size, that can be funded only by equity. Such a venture would require a combination of equity and capital. I don't have the actual numbers, but projects that size normally require debt financing," Chitando said.

Additional efforts to seek a comment from Rukato were fruitless yesterday as she claimed to have been travelling since last week.

"I will get the team to look into them today as I have been travelling," she said.

Great Dyke Investments is a joint venture company between the Russians and Zimbabweans in the Darwendale platinum project. Pen East Investments and Russia's JCS Afronet are said to have commissioned the platinum mining project in 2014 but to date the deal has not moved an inch.

The project is expected to haul at least one million ounces of platinum per annum. At least 15 000 jobs are expected to be created when the company starts operating at full capacity.

Large-scale exploration works at the Darwendale deposit commenced in January 2015. GDI had planned to drill over 300 000 running metres, making it one of the biggest exploration ventures in Zimbabwe.

The scope of work was designed to prove the deposit resources in indicated category for longer than a 20-year mining period. The Darwendale deposit resources have been estimated at 40 million ounces of platinum group metals (PGMs).

The initial scope of the project entailed the phased construction of a complex for mining and concentration of 10 million tonnes of ore per annum, and a smelter to enable production of up to 800 000 ounces (25 tonnes) of PGMs in the form of converter matter as final product.

At optimum capacity, the project was expected to require an investment of up to US$4,2 billion. GDI plans to set up a refinery in line with the government's thrust on value addition. Apart from the Russian deal, government also signed an agreement with Great Dyke Investments (Pvt) Limited.

Source - The Independent

Published in Economy
Nigeria’s inflation dropped by 0.07 percent in January 2019, the National Bureau of Statistics reports.
According to the NBS, the consumer price index, (CPI) which measured inflation increased by 11.37 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019.
“This is 0.07 percent points lower than the rate recorded in December 2018 (11.44) percent. Increases were recorded in all COICOP divisions that yielded the Headline index,” it said.
On month-on-month basis, the NBS said the Headline index increased by 0.74 percent in January 2019, same rate as was recorded in December 2018 (0.74) percent.
“The percentage change in the average composite CPI for the twelve months period ending January 2019 over the average of the CPI for the previous twelve months period was 11.80 percent, showing 0.3 percent point from 12.10 percent recorded in December 2018.
“The urban inflation rate increased by 11.66 percent (year-on-year) in January 2019 from 11.73 percent recorded in December 2018, while the rural inflation rate increased by 11.11 percent in January 2019 from 11.18 percent in December 2018,” it added.
Published in News Economy
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to declare the situation on the border with Mexico a national emergency, in a move that would grant him vast powers and would likely be contested in Congress and in the courts.
Some members of Trump’s own Republican Party have expressed concerns about the national emergency, fearing both a degradation of the role of Congress and setting a precedent.
Democrats have long argued there is a humanitarian issue at the border but there is no national emergency.
The national emergency comes at the end of a process which saw Trump largely lose to Congress over funding for his proposed vast expansion of the border wall.
Trump pushed the federal government into the longest shutdown in history, ending last month after 35 days.
Trump announced his intention a day before funding for the government was again set to run out and as Congress was approving appropriations, but without cash for Trump’s wall.
The president has agreed to sign the funding bill and keep government open.
Trump is expected to take executive action to announce funding for the wall from alternative funds.
The entire process is being denounced by Democrats as a blatant attempt to bypass Congress, which is constitutionally viewed as having the power of the purse.
The appropriations bill has set aside 1.375 billion dollars for physical barriers on the border.
Trump campaigned on the border wall and pledged Mexico would pay for it.
He was also once a fierce critic of former president Barack Obama when he took executive action, evading Congress.
Published in World
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