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Why is Kenya’s ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru playing dumb on who owns Telkom Kenya yet it is public knowledge?

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  • On Tuesday, while appearing before Parliament Committee on Implementation, Mr. Mucheru feigned ignorance when asked who owns the 60% stake of Telkom Kenya.
  • And that’s not all, Mr. Mucheru who is a public officer and therefore by law mandated to reveal any information to the public is withholding knowingly.
  • And so why would Mr. Mucheru feigned ignorance on something that is on public domain?

Kenya’s ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru is either a crafty fellow or just painfully dumb.

On Tuesday, while appearing before Parliament Committee on Implementation, Mr. Mucheru feigned ignorance when asked who owns the 60% stake of Telkom Kenya and insisted, he wasn’t aware who’s behind the stake that is held by Jamuhuri Holdings.

“I don’t know the owners of Jamuhuri Holdings. That can only be given to you by the National Treasury who are responsible for government shareholding in Telkom,” he told the Committee.


Kenyan Parliament in session

And that’s not all, Mr. Mucheru who is a public officer and therefore by law mandated to reveal any information to the public is withholding knowingly.

When asked by the committee to explain why a House resolution asking the government to reconsider privatisation of Telkom Kenya and the restructuring of its balance sheet has not been implemented five years down the line, he again feigned ignorance.

“I have no answers as to whether the right procedures were followed in the privatisation of Telkom Kenya,” said Mr Mucheru.


Communications Authority of Kenya.

The House had approved a Public Investments Committee (PIC) report that found that the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), now the Communications Authority of Kenya, and the Privatisation Commission were never involved in the restructuring of Telkom’s balance sheet.

“A company ceases to be State Corporation when it has less shareholding. The investment secretary or the CS Treasury is competent to be able to provide the information that you need,” he said, prompting committee chairman Moitalel ole Kenta to end the meeting prematurely.

Also read: 3 reasons why Kenya’s telecommunication giant needs to worry about Telkom Kenya-Airtel merger


Committee on Implementation chairman, Moitalel ole Kenta. (Daily Nation)

MPs accused Mr Mucheru of misleading them since an Executive Order issued by President Uhuru Kenyatta in 2018 placed Telkom Kenya under the ICT Ministry.

“You are hostile towards this committee. I rule that you provide all the information that we have asked you within the next 14 days…If not, you will be the first CS to face sanctions on the floor of the House,” Mr Kenta warned.


Telkom Kenya

And so why would Mr. Mucheru feigned ignorance on something that is on public domain?

Telkom Kenya is Kenya’s oldest telecommunications provider. With fixed network, wireless, mobile and Internet services, Telkom Kenya is the only fully integrated telecommunication solutions provider in the country. It was previously a part of the Kenya Posts and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC) which was the sole provider of both postal and telecommunication services.

The company was established as a telecommunications operator in April 1999, after the split of KPTC into the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK), the Postal Corporation of Kenya (POSTA) and Telkom Kenya.

In June 2016, Helios Investment Partners acquired 60% of Telkom Kenya, following receipt of regulatory approval. The remaining stake is held by Kenyans through the government of Kenya.


In June 2017, Orange Kenya rebranded to Telkom Kenya. (bankelele)

In June 2017, Orange Kenya rebranded to Telkom Kenya and pumped Sh5 billion ($50 million) to upgrade of Internet services as part of a larger strategy to sharpen its competitive edge.

In June 2019, the London-based company, was in talks with asset managers and development agencies to raise a fund of about $1.25 billion to invest across the continent and Telkom Kenya is likely to receive even more investments.

The company, which manages about $3.6 billion, closed a $1.1 billion Africa-focused fund in 2015 after exceeding a $1 billion target could start the fund this year, but is no rush to do so, according to one source with knowledge of the matter.


Tope Lawani, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, Helios Investment Partners. (HBS Alumni)

And who again owns Helios Investment Partners you ask? Tope Lawani, a Nigerian national, is a co-founder and Managing Partner of Helios and has 24 years of principal investment experience. Prior to forming Helios, he was a Principal in the San Francisco and London offices of TPG Capital, a leading global private equity firm managing over $70 billion in capital.

Babatunde Sosoye, a Nigerian national, is the other co-founder and currently Managing Partner of Helios.


Babatunde Sosoye, is the co-founder and Managing Partner of Helios. (heliosinvestment)

Just like Mr. Lawani, Mr. Sosoye also has a vast experience in principal investment running up to 22 years. Prior to forming Helios, he was a Principal at TPG Capital in London responsible for telecommunications and media investments across Europe.

As for Kenya’s ICT Secretary Joe Mucheru he is by no means dumb, he is just crafty and cunning for what reason exactly it is not clear.


ICT CS Joe Mucheru

Mr. Mucheru is a former Google Sub-Saharan Africa Lead based in the Google Nairobi office. He was Google’s first Sub-Saharan Africa employee and was key to setting up of Googles presence in Africa from 2007, according to information on his LinkedIn account.

Before joining Google he worked at Wananchi Online, a company he co-founded in 1999, where he held various roles at the company including Chief Technology Officer and Chief Executive Officer. He is also the current Chairman of African Telecommunications Union (ATU) as a specialised agency of the African Union (AU).

He attended the Stanford Executive Programme from Stanford University Graduate School of Business in 2008. He holds a (B Sc. (Joint Hons)) in Economics & Computer Science from City University London.