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Guinea Bissau reaches $47 mln deal on submarine cable

Comments (0) Latest Updates from Reuters

BISSAU (Reuters) – Guinea Bissau has agreed a memorandum of understanding with the World Bank, Orange and MTN for a $47 million project to link the country to a submarine telecoms cable connecting Africa with Europe, the government said on Wednesday.

Under the agreement, French telecoms company Orange and South Africa’s MTN Group will form a consortium with the government of the West African country, the statement by the finance and transport ministries said.

“The World Bank unlocks $31.596 million in the form of a loan to connect Bissau to the international fibre optic cable,” said the finance and transport ministries in a joint statement.

Guinea Bissau will be hooking up to the ACE (Africa Coast Europe) cable, the statement said, one of five linking countries in West Africa to Europe. Guinea Bissau will the be last coastal country in the region to link to a submarine cable.

Orange and MTN will provide about $8 million each over a five-year period, the statement said.

The project is due to be completed in 18 months and officials said it would improve internet speeds and reduce communication costs in the poor, Portuguese-speaking country.

Only 3.8 percent of individuals in the country of 1.8 million are internet users, according to the U.N.’s International Telecommunication Union.


(Reporting by Alberto Dabo; writing by Emma Farge; editing by David Clarke)

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South African black lobby disappointed by MTN’s new white CEO

Comments (0) Africa, Latest Updates from Reuters, Politics

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South Africa’s Black Management Forum (BMF) said it was disappointed by the appointment of white South African Rob Shuter as MTN Group’s new CEO and viewed it as a serious blow to giving blacks a larger role in business.

The forum, which lobbies for black rights, criticised the mobile phone operator’s decision saying it was retrogressive to plans for the inclusion of blacks in corporate boardrooms in Africa’s most industrialised country.

Shuter was named on Monday as the replacement for Sifiso Dabengwa, a black executive who resigned last November after Nigeria imposed a fine on MTN for failing to deactivate more than five million unregistered SIM cards.

“There is a general unwillingness for transformation at top management level which has resulted in the decline in the number of black South African CEOs,” BMF President Mncane Mthunzi said in a statement. “These companies are owned by the public and yet they don’t reflect the demographics of our society.”

MTN spokesman Chris Maroleng had no immediate comment but said the company would respond later via an emailed statement.

Founded with the government’s help after the end of apartheid in 1994, MTN has been touted as one of South Africa’s biggest corporate success stories with operations in more than 20 countries in the Middle East and Africa.

Since coming to power at the end of white minority rule, the African National Congress party has pushed for change in the complexion of the civil service, the military and state-owned firms, as well national sports teams and private businesses.

The push has helped many South Africans who were excluded from the mainstream economy under apartheid and created a solid black middle class.

MTN executive Phuthuma Nhleko, also black, was appointed interim executive chairman following Dabengwa’s resignation, with an eye to renegotiating the Nigerian fine which was initially set at $5.2 billion.

In the end, MTN agreed this month to pay a 330 billion naira fine ($1.2 billion) and to list its local business on the Nigerian Stock Exchange. MTN is the largest mobile phone operator in Nigeria with 62 million subscribers and the country accounts for about a third of its revenue.

Nhleko will revert to his role as non-executive chairman when Shuter starts as CEO, which is expected to be by July next year at the latest. Shuter, who has a background in risk management, will be joining MTN from rival mobile operator Vodafone, where he is currently head of Vodafone Europe.

($1 = 283.0000 naira)


(Reporting by Tanisha Heiberg; editing by James Macharia and David Clarke)

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