By John Churu, Gaborone, Botswana
Botswana’s minister of Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology (MIST) Nonofo Molefhi and his entourage descended at the exchange House for an historic listing by the BTCL. The communication company was the first such public company to list on the national bourse since independence. “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,” said the jubilant Molefhi.
“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.
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.
The minister added that “Today, we usher in thousands of new, Botswana citizen shareholders in BTCL. Today, we welcome thousands of first time shareholders to the bourse, 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.
The minister explained that he had 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.”
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. 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.
Still on the same topic, the Minister of Transport and Communications, Honourable Tshenolo Mabeo, said, “This is a watershed moment in the economic inclusion narrative of Botswana. At 10am today, a new era dawned and its vanguard is BTCL. Today, I stand before the Botswana Stock Exchange a proud man. We have done it! BTCL ke ya Batswana! The road that has gotten us here has not always been easy, but we are finally here and history has been made. Batswana are now shareholders of BTCL, through Botswana’s first major privatisation of a public asset. Over fifty thousand Batswana took up the Offer to purchase and became a part of this historic occasion, and today we celebrate them!”
The BTCL IPO was oversubscribed by 1.68 times, with 776,333,400 Shares Offered by the public, as compared to only 462 million Shares available. This comes as the first major privatisation of a state entity and part of Government’s ambition for greater inclusiveness of Batswana in the economy.
The Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatisation Agency (PEEPA) CEO, Kgotla Ramaphane, added his voice and said, “This is a significant day for the Government of Botswana, PEEPA, BTCL, and the BSE and indeed for Batswana in general. The intended transformation of BTCL is now complete. From a Parastatal to a Limited Company with only one shareholder, to now being a listed company with tens of thousands of Batswana shareholders. We look forward to seeing BTCL grow from success to success and to seeing more Batswana take this step into the world of stocks and shareholding. The results of this IPO tell a story of a people who are serious about their future and saving and investing. It is also a strong confirmation that citizens and citizen owned companies have hope in the future of BTCL.”