Connecting Africa is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 3099067.

Business of Tech

SA President orders investigation into Telkom

Article Image
South African operator Telkom has had a tumultuous 2022 so far and is now facing a wide-ranging probe from the government into various dealings going back over 15 years.

This week SA President Cyril Ramaphosa issued a proclamation directing the country's Special Investing Unit (SIU) to look into some of Telkom old deals in Africa, including failed forays into Nigeria and Mauritius.

The SIU is investigating possible maladministration in the sale or disposal of iWayAfrica, Africa Online Mauritius and Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited.

Telkom issued a statement to the media saying that it was aware of the probe.

"All matters relating to these transactions are on the public record. Telkom’s own investigation flagged possible cases of wrongdoing by two employees in one of these transactions and declared this in terms of the Prevention and Combatting of Corrupt Activities Act. Telkom issued civil summons against an employee with an eye to recovering losses amounting to $5 million relating to activities incidental to the transaction," the telco said.

"As the matter is the subject of a criminal and civil nature, Telkom will deal with the case on its merits in the appropriate forum, in the appropriate manner, at the appropriate time," it added.

In a separate statement to shareholders Telkom said it was waiting for further clarity on the scope of the SIU investigation.

Telkom said that matters surrounding the Multi-Links Telecommunications Limited transaction "have been reported on previously and certain related issues have been dealt with in various courts with different jurisdictions in South Africa."

Failed ventures

Telkom bought 75% of Nigerian Multi-Links in 2007 for US$280 million, and then took over the company completely in 2009 for an extra US$130 million. But the asset proved to be a major money loser and two years later was sold for just $10 million.

In 2007 iWayAfrica was formed when Telkom bought MWeb Africa and amalgamated it with Africa Online Mauritius, but the business performed poorly and Telkom sold it in 2013 saying it had become "an immaterial part of the Group."

The President's interest is because the SA government owns a 40% stake in Telkom and the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) – which manages state pension funds – owns about 14% of the telco.

The president said in a published Government Gazette that the investigation pertained to any losses that Telkom or the State suffered that may be recovered.

"I deem it necessary that the said allegations should be investigated and civil proceedings emanating from such investigation should be adjudicated upon," Ramaphosa said.

Allegations mount

The SA President instructed the SIU to investigate allegations, including:

  • Serious maladministration in connection with the affairs of Telkom;

  • Improper or unlawful conduct by employees, officials or agents of Telkom;

  • Unlawful appropriation or expenditure of public money or property;

  • Unlawful, irregular or unapproved acquisitive act, transaction, measure or practice having a bearing upon State property;

  • Intentional or negligent loss of public money or damage to public property;

  • Unlawful or improper conduct by any person, which has caused or may cause serious harm to the interests of the public or any category thereof.

    Telkom is also in the midst of a court battle with South Africa's telecoms regulator the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) over an upcoming spectrum auction.

    Last week, Telkom said it would remove one part of the court application it filed on January 5, 2022.

    *Top image is of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa. (Source: GovernmentZA's GCIS via Flickr).

    — Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

  • Innovation hub

    Story

    Google's Equiano subsea cable lands on SA shores

    Google’s Equiano subsea cable, which seeks to connect Europe to Africa via the ocean, has made its final stop landing in Melkbosstrand, Western Cape, South Africa.

    Story

    Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

    Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

    More Innovation hub

    Africa Tech Perspectives

    Story

    Women in Tech: Spotlight on inclusivity with Digital Council Africa's Juanita Clark

    Digital Council Africa founder and CEO, Juanita Clark, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and what needs to be done to make the tech industry intentionally inclusive.

    Story

    Women in Tech: Spotlight on legal tech with Life.file's Sinal Govender

    Life.file co-founder, Sinal Govender, talks to Connecting Africa as part of our Women's Month series about her career and how we can encourage more young girls to enter the legal tech field.

    Story

    Digital inclusion as a catalyst for economic empowerment: Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu

    Mastercard's Imelda Ngunzu talks to Connecting Africa about how digital payment solutions and mobile money are transforming the lives of small business owners, women and marginalized groups in East Africa.

    More AfricaCom perspectives

    Partner perspectives

    5G is lighting up the future of North Africa
    By Chris Meng, VP of Huawei Northern Africa Carrier Business Department

    The moving target that is telecoms fraud
    By Clémentine Fournier, Regional VP Sales, Africa, BICS

    How mobile operators in Africa can address signalling threats and secure the network
    By Katia Gonzalez, Head of Fraud and Security at BICS

    All Partner Perspectives

    Latest video

    More videos

    Guest Perspectives

    Story

    Omdia View: June 2022

    By Omdia Analysts

    5G was the major news trend across Africa in June, as Orange became the first operator to launch 5G in Réunion and operators in Senegal accelerated their 5G plans despite spectrum delays.

    Story

    Omdia View: May 2022

    By Omdia Analysts

    SpaceX-owned Starlink's plans to launch a satellite broadband service in Africa was a major highlight in May 2022, says Omdia's analysts.

    More Guest Perspectives

    Upcoming events

    Africa Tech Festival
    November 7-11, 2022
    CTICC, Cape Town
    More Upcoming events

    Archived webinars

    Africa Green ICT: Lighting Up a Sustainable Continent

    The ICT industry is the leading industry in the commitment to carbon neutrality, whose focus has shifted from setting ambitious targets to taking initiatives. The push for zero-carbon and for green energy development, it isn't just about CSR – it's also good for sustainable business.

    The path to sustainable development requires green energy. Governments are looking at potential policy approaches to make green energy more widely available and affordable. Without sustainable energy, there will be no digital transformation and no chance of making Africa more economically competitive in the post-pandemic era.

    Africa Green ICT Webinar 2022 will bring together ICT industry leaders and senior industrial analysts to provide insight, best practices and key learnings on how to achieve zero-carbon targets and practice green development in Africa.

    More Webinars

    Sponsored video

    More videos

    Flash poll

    All polls

    Like us on Facebook

    Newsletter Sign Up


    Sign Up