The 34 percent MTC shares and the Namibian public
The 34% shares as held by Portugal Telecom in the Mobile Telecommunication Company (MTC) should be sold or offered through a comprehensive redistribution process directly to the Namibian public.
I am not sure why we are doing ourselves so much economic injustice when we have a successful majority state-owned business entity such as MTC which could seriously and potentially set in motion the redistribution of great wealth directly to Namibians. Is it perhaps a lack of corporate or political leadership or challenge, is it the fear of the unknown, or a general lack of self-confidence as a nation or what exactly is the problem with us? If what they say is true, that where there is political and economic will, there will always be a way and if there is not, then we are certainly doomed as a nation.
I will not for the purpose of this article waste time on what Portugal Telecom has done or will do with its share but will rather concentrate on the business opportunity that this situation presents to the Namibian public at large as was reported in the New Era front page of the 19th of September 2016 titled “Scramble for MTC’s billion dollar shares”. The impression I got from that article is that GRN still has a great opportunity to acquire the shares of Portugal Telecom and should in return through the Harambee Prosperity Plan or through other means divert these shares to the Namibian public to acquire them.
The 34% MTC shares as held by Portugal Telecom are currently valued at N$1.13 billion (as per the abovementioned New Era article) and if through an expression of interest 300,000 Namibians respond to buy those shares, they will each acquire a share of MTC at N$3,767 per share. This is certainly affordable by any standards and will grant many Namibians the grand opportunity to be proud shareholders in their own mobile telecommunication company.
Obviously if more Namibians respond to the call to take up shares in MTC, the share price will be much lower. Purchasing modalities can be put in place to limit the number of shares each individual may purchase to ensure that a mass share participation is achieved.
The successful implementation of this business opportunity towards the selling of the 34% Portugal Telecom shares to the Namibian public could potentially further set in motion GRN’s partial disinvestment in other parastatals such as Nampower, Telecom Namibia, Namport just to mention a few to the public for the sole purpose of joint public ownership and greater wealth redistribution.
Before I continue, I would just like to give a little bit of background on MTC as is currently is. MTC Namibia was successfully established in 1995 through a smart partnership with Portugal Telecom (which currently holds 34% share ownership in MTC) to provide mobile telecommunication services to the Namibian market. The company has since then successfully positioned itself to become the dominant mobile telecommunication service provider with little or non-existence competition from its main competitor, Telecom Mobile. MTC is recorded to have generated a substantial turnover of about N$2.74 billion (as per the abovementioned New Era article) as of 2013 and is a significant contributor to the coffers of its main shareholder in the form of corporate taxes and dividends. MTC has over 1.5 million active mobile subscribers with a more than 90% nationwide area network coverage. MTC is further a strong proponent for social responsibility investment in areas such as sport development and promotion, in arts activities such as the annual music awards, education through issuing of academic bursaries and internships, sponsorship of business trade fairs just to mention a few.
Furthermore, MTC with its minimal competition, has a very highly healthy balance sheet with a significant cash flow reserve and greater revenue potential. MTC is the ideal and best positioned company to set in motion the process of wealth redistributions on a very large scale for the benefit of the state and fellow Namibians. The successful implementation of this business decision or model will set the pace and the trajectory towards Namibia achieving the Harambee Prosperity Plan as well as the nation’s Vision 2030. This will also demonstrate GRN’s resolve to join hands with its citizens through this smart partnership to share in the nation’s mobile telecommunication wealth.
MTC is proudly through the Namibian Government a Namibian company and should further through this business opportunity truly become an indigenous company.
However and sadly, the whole of the above could be wishful thinking as it will require very strong but knowledgeable economic and fearless political leadership to advocate and implement, which is unfortunately lacking. It is really a great pity that basic economic empowerment solutions that could solve our problems are in front of us as a nation but for some unknown reasons we tend to have the fear not to take risks which could benefit the nation at large. MTC has been in business for over 20 years now and has proven to be a very stable and profitable business entity which should by now be 100% locally owned.
We owe it to the current and future generations to start thinking differently to directly benefit from our natural and other positive economic resources such as MTC. MTC should be the starting point towards our economic prosperity aspiration and as a catalyst to achieve Vision 2030.
• Pendapala Hangala is a socio-economist commentator as well as an entrepreneur and this article is written towards the aims and objectives of Namibia’s Vision 2030. firstname.lastname@example.org