Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Ethiopian Airways to takeover Air Botswana?

The Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) is playing hide and seek amid speculation government may be considering Ethiopian Airways as a possible partner for the privatisation of Air Botswana. After several attempts since 2001, the ailing national airline hasn’t been that efficient ever since the days when Joshua Galeforolwe was at the helm.

PEEPA Board Chairman Tiny Kgatlwane said the parastatal has submitted recommendations on the review of Air Botswana’s operating model for consideration by the Ministry of Transport and Communications in August 2020.Quizzed on what may have informed the decision to consider Ethiopian Airways for the takeover of Air Botswana, she said she nor the organization were not aware of any such consideration. But she confirmed that PEEPA has been involved in three privatization attempts between 2000 and 2007.“Government took a decision to privatize Air Botswana in 2017 and the process was preceded by review of the operating model for the entity before privatization. We are not aware of Air Botswana privatization being moved from PEEPA.,” said Kgatlwane.

She further stated that PEEPA has not made any specific recommendation on the privatization of the airline, adding that the contents of the report can only be divulged by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. Further quizzed on process of privatization of the National Airline, being lifted from PEEPA to the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning, Kgatlwane stated that PEEPA advises government on privatization matters, among other things, and will implement approved privatization transactions on behalf of government.

Permanent Secretary (PS) in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, Dr Wilfred Mandlebe also denied the allegations of lifting of privatisation of Air Botswana from PEEPA to the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.

“As far as I am aware, the Privatisation Policy of Botswana is clear that PEEPA is responsible for managing the privatisation of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs), working with relevant sector Ministry, which in the case of Air Botswana, will be Ministry of Transport and Communications,” said Mandlebe. He further stated that Dr. Keith Jefferis, who happens to be Senior Policy Advisor in the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development, is not directly involved in the process of privatisation of Air Botswana. He added that Dr. Jefferis is part of the officials of the Ministry supporting Minister Dr. Thapelo Matsheka in his role as Chairperson of a Cabinet Sub-Committee on the performance of the SOEs.

“This Committee is responsible for, among others, reviewing the performance of the SOEs with advising Cabinet. Perhaps, it is his involvement with the committee that created a wrong impression on this matter,” said Mandlebe.

Ethiopian Airlines was voted the best airline in Africa for the third consecutive time in 2019 at the Skytrax awards held in Paris – not for being profitable but for efficiency.

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The Telegraph October 28

Digital edition of The Telegraph, October 28, 2020.