The Black IT Forum (BITF), which represents thousands of small and medium enterprises, black professionals and students, has said it will put forward a “forceful view” on Vodacom’s proposed acquisition of Neotel within the next week or so.
Though it hasn’t decided what exactly that view is yet as it’s still consulting with mobile operators Cell C, MTN and Vodacom and still intends engaging with communications regulator Icasa, its treasurer-general, Morena Ntsika, tells TechCentral it intends lobbying bodies such as Icasa and the competition authorities once it’s firmed up its position.
Once it has taken a firm stance, it intends communicating this to both Business Unity South Africa (Busa) and the Black Management Forum, asking that they also support its position.
The BITF’s secretary general Motse Mfuleni is a vice-president of Busa.
Ntsika explains that about 20% of the BITF’s members are opposed to Vodacom’s proposed acquisition of Neotel, valued at R7bn, with many of them wanting the mobile operator to hand back its spectrum to Icasa before the transaction is allowed to proceed. The majority of its members support the deal, he says.
It’s possible — likely, even — that the BITF will recommend the deal proceeds, but also propose that regulators attach conditions to it.
The BITF’s management team met with representatives from Cell C on Wednesday. The mobile operator is vigourously opposing the deal, saying it will undermine competition in South Africa’s telecommunications industry. The forum is meeting with MTN on 31 March, and will engage with both Vodacom and Icasa after that, according to Ntsika.
“We are going to make a robust decision around this issue,” he says. “The decision has to be to the benfit of our members.”
BITF president Mdu Mkhonza tells TechCentral that the body wants to “make its voice heard”.
“We are aware this process might end up with the Competition Tribunal after it’s been at the Competition Commission. And if it comes to that, we would want to make our position and concerns known at that stage,” Mkhonza says. — © 2015 NewsCentral Media