Uganda Telecom (UTL) journey to date
Uganda Telecom is Uganda’s first Telecommunication operator, her (Uganda) national fixed line, mobile and Internet provider and the first company to own a Full Telecommunications Operator license.
It evolved from the East African Post & Telecom Corporation in the 1970’s, and the Uganda Post and Telecom Corporation in the 1980’s and 1990’s.
1998: It was incorporated as a Public Limited Liability Company
2007: LAP GreenN (a Libyan company) acquired 69% of UTL’s shares when it acquired holding company UCOM, and the Government of Uganda held the remaining 31% of shares. The Company was characterized by heavy indebtedness, decline in market share and losses due to inadequate investment, competitive pressures, a dilapidated network and governance challenges
Between 2008 and 2009: MTN Uganda and Airtel threatened to lock out the telecom’s calls over failure to pay a combined sum of more than sh20b accumulated in interconnection charges but the telecom denied the sums, saying it was only aware of sh6b for MTN and sh2.6b for Airtel and blamed the non-payment of staff on continued failure by various government agencies to clear bills amounting to more than sh7b.
2011: Following the crisis in Libya, UN imposed sanctions on Green Network, a subsidiary of the Libya Africa Investment Portfolio (LAP) hence affecting its entities, one of which was UTL.
31.08.2011: Airtel Uganda Ltd, terminated its interconnection agreement with Uganda Telecom over unpaid interconnection fees amounting to Uganda shillings 10 billion ($3.6 million). Early in the same year, MTN Uganda, threatened to block calls to UTL over a $8.6 million debt in unpaid interconnection fees, however, the two reached an understanding over the debt payment following the intervention of Uganda Communications Commission (UCC).
27.05.2012: Government handed over full control of Uganda Telecom (UTL) to LAP Green, the parent company of UTL. LAP Green’s directors were fully reinstated and resumed their management control responsibilities of the company.
25.02.2017: UCOM Ltd, the largest shareholder pulled out, forcing five of its directors who were previously charged with managing the company to resign.
01.03.2017: Government took over the management of UTL.
April 2017: It was ascertained that the Company was struggling, with its assets standing at sh148b while the liabilities were sh700b. Rather than let the company go into liquidation, government opted to get the court order to act as a seal to protect the company and also appointed an administrator, Bemanya Twebaze, the Chief Executive Officer of the Uganda Registration Services Bureau (URSB) to head all operations geared towards reviving the company. He was charged with reviving the company and also look for a new investor who the government could ally with to revive the telecom company.
June 2019: State minister for Investment Evelyn Anite wrote to the Attorney General to apply to the court for orders replacing Bemanya as administrator of UTL arguing that the Government encountered difficulty dealing with him and completely lost confidence in his ability to continue serving in the role but if flopped after the Attorney General advised that this was irregular. The minister also ordered that the company be audited by internal auditors but before the audit could start, UTL petitioned court demanding the audit to be done by the Auditor General. Auditor General, John Muwanga, was given one month by Court to complete the audit.
16.07.2019: The President in a letter to State minister Evelyn Anite, directed for an audit of UTL’s activities due to some allegations. However, Bemanya, the Attorney General Willian Byaruhanga, deputy Attorney General, Mwesigwa Rukutana and the Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, insisted that a company under receivership could not be audited.
11.11.2019: Sources said the John Muwanga audit was still ongoing but to move faster the Auditor General needed more resources. While Finance minister Matia Kasaija had announced the replacement of Bemanya Twebaze as UTL administrator when his contract expires next week, it was dismissed as void. Deputy Attorney General Mwesigwa Rukutana advised that it was Court which appointed Bemanya that had the authority to decide his fate.