Libya is a force to reckon with in Africa

By Mildred Mulenga- PANA Correspondent Lusaka, Zambia (PANA) -- Libya's widening investment role in Africa has spread to Zambia, where the north African nation is taking a grip on the Zambian telecommunications sector with the recent acquisition of a 75 percent stake in the Zambia Telecommunication Company (Zamtel) at a cost of over US$380 million.
The investment is being described as the highest single transaction since the privatisation process began in Zambia in the 1990s.
Under a deal signed with the Zambian government last June, Libya African Investment Portfolio (LAP) Green Networks committed to pay a total purchase consideration of US$257 million for the 75 percent equity stake in Zamtel and an additional US$127 million financing for Zamtel's existing and new network expansion projects.
According to the Zambia Development Agency (ZDA), as part of the revitalisation of Zamtel, LAP Green Networks also committed to a five-year business plan, which will foresee a rapid and sustainable return to growth, underpinned by a major investment in network infrastructure and support systems to modernize the company.
The Zambian government retains 25 percent of Zamtel shares and will continue to have an active role in the management and direction of Zamtel, retaining two seats on the board out of seven and veto rights on certain key decisions concerning the company.
Zambia's Finance and National Planning Minister Situmbeko Musokotwane, who had expressed satisfaction with the price at which the country's telecommunication firm had been sold, explained that LAP Green Networks had assured the Zambian government that a substantial part of the total purchase had been allocated to the settlement of full redundancy package for the 2,341 Zamtel employees.
As part of the process, LAP Green Networks will retain a proportion of the workforce, sufficient to operate Zamtel in an optimal manner and in line with its five-year business plan.
''The government of Zambia has today paved the way for completing the most significant privatisation in the history of Zambia.
We are delighted to have signed an agreement with LAP Green Networks who have both the resources and the track record in the African telecommunications sector to turn Zamtel around and deliver rapid change and tangible Zambia,'' Musokotwane said after the deal was signed.
He said the agreement was a major step towards reinvigorating the Zambian telecoms market and ensuring that more people have access to more affordable services, and high- speed access to Internet, thus contribute to and benefit from the digital economy.
The Libyan firm is part of LAP that was incorporated in 2006 as a Libyan foreign investment vehicle primarily focusing on contributing to the development of African economies.
A government entity, the firm had an initial capital of US$50 billion.
LAP Green Networks group chief executive officer Abdulbaset Elazzabi said the announcement of LAP Green as a preferred buyer of Zamtel was hugely significant for his company.
''This is the single largest investment that we have made to date,'' Elazzabi said after the agreement was signed.
''Zambia is a key part of our wider strategy to build telecoms networks across the African continent, and we are extremely happy to have been selected by the government of Zambia to become their partner in Zamtel.
'' Elazzabi said LAP Green Networks had the experience to turn around Zamtel as it had done in other countries, where it operates such as Uganda, Rwanda, Southern Sudan and Cote d'Ivoire.
Zambia's Communication Minister Professor Geoffrey Lungwangwa noted that the coming on board of the Libyan firm would enhance the development of Information Communication and Technology (ICT) in Zambia.

10 october 2010 12:29:00

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