Botswana, welcome to BTCL

SHARE   |   Tuesday, 12 April 2016   |   By Nonofo Molefhi
BTCL MD Paul Taylor [L] and Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi BTCL MD Paul Taylor [L] and Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi

It is a day I know we have all awaited with great excitement as we celebrate the listing of BTCL onto the Domestic Main Board of the Botswana Stock Exchange. To say that today is a momentous day would be an absolute understatement. The last few months, we have seen history being made with every passing day, and words do not do justice to the true magnitude of this project, though words shall have to do for now. A journey that began close to a decade ago culminates today in what is the first successful privatisation of a state entity into the hands of thousands of Batswana across the country. I would like to state what an honour it is for me to be a part of this fantastic moment in our National history. I am privileged to stand here today to see the efforts of so many come to fruition and indeed come full circle. 

On the 21st of December 2015, I stood before the Nation and declared the BTCL IPO officially launched. We knew then that these final stages would not be easy, but we prepared ourselves for almost any eventuality and committed ourselves tirelessly to ensuring that Batswana have the access and opportunity to ownership of shares in a National asset such as BTCL. Today, I am pleased to see that those efforts have certainly paid off. The Government of Botswana has always envisaged seeing more Batswana partake in a pinnacle moment in the history of BTCL and our local economy, and today we see that this has become a reality. Our mandate was clear and we were steadfast in delivering upon it: to ensure maximum citizen participation. This meant ensuring nobody was left behind, and everyone had access to information and education on this once in a lifetime opportunity. We ensured that no individual in this country would not know the true meaning of BTCL ke ya rona rotlhe. 

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Allow me to acknowledge and thank the team that has brought us here today for their extensive, immeasurable and patriotic efforts. The Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) has been the organisation leading the implementation of the BTCL IPO. This was in collaboration with my Ministry, the Ministry of Transport and Communications, the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning and of course, the team at BTCL. Helping them were a number of consultants who have dedicated their expertise to ensuring that this project of National interest is a success in benefitting all Batswana. 

Let us commend the fact, too, that majority of these consultants and organisations are or have engaged Botswana suppliers, and therefore continue to have the best interests of our Nation at heart. Please join me in giving them all a round of applause for their tremendous efforts. As I stand before you today, there is no doubt that this IPO has been a great success and has in fact exceeded all expectations. The numbers speak for themselves:

• An 8 week Offer period 

• Over 33 Nationwide Public education roadshow activation locations and 61 activations

• Over 300,000 BTCL share application forms printed

• Over 30,000 Prospectuses printed

• In excess of 100,000 pieces of educational information in English and Setswana (brochures, pamphlets, etc)

• and a social media community of over 28,000

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These are but a handful of the many statistics and numbers which testify to the extensive scope of our efforts in this project, and in delivering BTCL to Batswana. These figures also testify to the thirst of Batswana for a diversified economy and new means of investment. We have proven to ourselves that we as Batswana have the power to make these dreams of alternative investment platforms a reality and to change lives in this way. If I may borrow the words of PEEPA, indeed we are breaking new grounds. We vowed to make every effort to reach and engage as many Batswana as possible, and I am confident that this has been the case. What is heart-warming is to see that even at the time of the closing of the IPO, Batswana continued to engage with us through the various platforms established to learn more. 

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To this very day, the national dialogue on investment in shares continues, and this is an incredible thing. This is, in my humble opinion, the truest example of nation building. Let us continue in our journey of education and transformation. It does not end here. Today, we usher in thousands of new, Botswana citizen shareholders in BTCL. Today, we welcome thousands of first time shareholders to the bourse. Today, we celebrate the birth of a new BTCL, ready and committed to adding value to all of its precious stakeholders. BTCL is resolute in its determination to be a leading, world-class telecommunications service provider and a true embodiment of the spirit of botho. I have shared before with Batswana that the BTCL IPO was underpinned by Government’s strong drive towards empowering Batswana. Through working with such entities as Botswana Stock Exchange, we are changing the economic landscape of the country one step at a time. Through this listing, we commemorate the fact that we, as a Government, and as a Nation, have said a bold YES to empowering ourselves with the means to grow and thrive as a people, as a community and as an economy. 

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This opportunity also brought with it greater financial and economic inclusion. Now more Batswana will be included in the activities of the local market no matter what educational or social background they come from. During this period each and every Motswana was indeed equal. No matter your situation or your location, you had the right to own shares in BTCL. The many stories of the efforts some made to raise precious funds to purchase shares are nothing short of humbling and remarkable. And while some may not have been able to raise funds in time, it is our hope that their thirst for share ownership extends beyond the IPO itself. During this project we witnessed an incredible demonstration of giving to one another and paying forward, as many of our partners and stakeholders played a proactive role in supporting one another with information that would help their fellow citizens in this historic opportunity.

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From our local financial institutions to Unions and public offices and local community leaders, to our media and indeed the many public figures and ordinary Batswana who served as ambassadors in their own right, I thank you. Let us, give them all a round of applause. The response to this opportunity, through the IPO, was nothing short of phenomenal and broke, as you have heard, record after record. Today, we see a BTCL powered by thousands of new shareholders, and supported by the hands and hearts of a Nation. 

Today we have indeed made history, and as a Nation we stand proud in watching BTCL list on the BSE, following the necessary checks and balances made with the relevant regulatory officials and indeed with the BSE itself. We are proud of our heritage; we are proud of this historic business, a building block of our community; and we are proud of the spirit of the people who have brought us to this moment. I am confident that Rre Taylor and his team will continue to deliver a BTCL that is simply the best, and that continues to add value for us all, paving the way for other entities to follow suit in the privatisation agenda of Government.  To you, the Botswana investor, welcome to a journey of empowerment, education and, enrichment. More importantly, I encourage all those who have succeeded in acquiring the shares of BTCL to support the company fully and ensure its sustainable success.

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*This is part of a speech delivered by the Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology Nonofo Molefhi at the listing of BTCL on Friday.