Libya's LAP Green Networks has taken back full control of Uganda Telecom following the lifting of United Nations sanctions on all Libyan-owned businesses across Africa early this month.
Uganda Telecom is one of four telecommunications companies under LAP Green, the telecom investment arm of Libya's Africa Investment Portfolio -- one of the legacies of Moammar Gadhafi, who was deposed and killed last year.
Uganda Telecom, like LAP's Africa operations in Zambia, Ivory Coast and South Sudan, was subject to U.N. sanctions last year after the uprising that overthrew Gadhafi.
Wafik Al-Shater, LAP Green's chairman, said the group's directors had been fully reinstated as Uganda Telecom board members and have resumed their management responsibilities of the company. LAP Green controls 69 percent of the fixed and mobile telecom company, with the Ugandan government owning the rest.
"I and the entire team are delighted to have our full board rights as majority shareholders of Uganda Telecom restored, and subsequent to the recent UTL board meeting on the 21st of May, we're now pleased to resume full operational management control," a company press statement quoted Al-Shater as saying.
Donald Nyakairu, Uganda Telecom's acting managing director, said the company expects to invest US$60 million and raise mobile subscriber numbers to 2.2 million from 1.6 million now. He added that the company will expand its infrastructure.
The U.N. sanctions paralyzed the company's normal operations. Analysts predicted a collapse of the company or a takeover as it was weighed down by especially interconnection debt when its assets were frozen, but it survived, helped partly by its sheer size and historical position.
Uganda Telecom was once part of Uganda Posts and Telecommunications, the state monopoly that was split into two to create the new company when the telecom sector was deregulated. The company, which operates a 3G network, stayed afloat leveraging some of its core businesses, especially wide area bandwidth on data gateways, Internet service provision as well as a mobile money transfer service.
Al-Shater said reinstatement of the board at Uganda Telecom represents yet another step forward for LAP Green in the restoration of the group's fixed and mobile telecoms assets across Africa. He said LAP Green over the past few months has developed a good understanding of what is required to restore its assets across Africa.
"In addition to Uganda we are driving positive change in Ivory Coast (Oricel) and South Sudan (Gemtel)," he said. "We are also evaluating our options in other territories where we have licenses."
Al-Shater said LAP Green has put in place a team of telecom professionals who are leading the company as part of its rebuilding work and promised to recruit and expand the team with talented individuals.
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