The shareholders of Mozambique’s two publicly owned telecommunications companies, TDM (which runs the network of fixed lines), and the mobile telephony company MCel, met on Thursday and elected Mohamed Reafique Jusob as chairperson of the board of directors of both companies.
The shareholders also confirmed the principle of merging the two companies into one, in line with government policy towards the telecommunications sector.
Rafique was Deputy Minister of Industry Trade and Tourism between 1994 and 2000. From 2000 to 2010 he was the general director of the government’s Investment Promotion Centre (CPI). In May he concluded a three year term of office as a member of the Board of Directors of the African Legal Support Facility, a specialist body of the African Development Bank (ADB).
The shareholders of the two companies are mostly the Mozambican state. TDM is owned 80 per cent by the state and 20 per cent by its own managers and workers.
It was TDM that set up MCel, as the country’s first mobile phone company, in November 1997, and it remains the major shareholder with 74 per cent of the shares. The remaining 26 per cent is held by IGEPE (Institute for the Management of State Holdings), representing the state.
Both companies are in serious financial difficulties. TDM has found it difficult to adapt to a situation where the demand for fixed phone lines has declined dramatically. MCel was the pioneer in mobile telephony in Mozambique, but has lost market share to two aggressive competitors with deep pockets – first, the South African company Vodacom, and later Movitel, in which the main shareholder is the Vietnamese telecommunications company, Viettel, in partnership with SPI, the holding company of Mozambique’s ruling Frelimo Party.
Rafique now has the difficult task of handling the merger of the two companies and restoring the publicly owned telecommunications sector to financial health.
The shareholders’ meeting appointed two other directors for the merged company, Mario Luis Albino and Binda Celestino Jocker.