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Government has hit a snag on the joint venture between Botswana Power Corporation (BPC) and Liquid Telecom after it took a decision to change the business model of using the national optic fibre including that of BPC.
This was revealed by Minister of Mineral Resources, Green Technology and Energy Security Eric Molale when answering a question in Parliament revealing that the decision was approved by cabinet last month. He said the new partnership known as Liquid Telecom Botswana will now have to apply directly to Botswana Fibre Networks (BOFINET) instead of going to Botswana Communication Regulatory Authority (BOCRA) if they want permission and licence to use any optic fibre. “The decision was to help speed up and actualize universal access to optic fibre in the country and BPC infrastructure lent itself to the achievement of this strategy,” he said.
In 2016, BPC entered into a joint venture with an international telecommunications company, Liquid Telecom to become a telecoms network provider. BPC owns and operates optical fibre cable network that is embedded in some of its voltage transmission lines.
The move according to Minister Molale has put the license application process for Liquid Telecom Botswana on hold. On the joint venture between BPC and Liquid Telecom, Molale admitted that the procurement and asset disposal guidelines by Government were not followed to the letter by BPC. He said that they have encouraged Liquid Telecom to apply directly for any fibre optic under Ministry of Transport and Communications and not be issued by BPC because they are not into that business.
In 2017 BOCRA refused to issue Liquid Telecom Botswana with a telecommunications and system license suggesting that the power utility is required by Section 39 and 40 of the BOCRA Act to have a telecommunications service license and/or a telecommunications equipment license for offering and provision of the Indefeasible Right of Use Agreement and infrastructure to LTBL.
BofiNet has been unsettled by the entrance of Liquid Telecom reasoning that the new entrant threatens their existence. BOFINET was one of the companies that bid for the BPC optic fibre but the power utility settled for the Pan African Company.