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Down and almost out! Cash-strapped Kwese TV up for sale

Herbert Mucunguzi (R), the General Manager Kwesé TV Uganda, Collins Mugume (R), the marketing and PR manager and Ben Mwine (C) the General Manager Kwesé Free TV pose for a photo during the Kwesé TV launch in Kampala. (PHOTO/File)

KAMPALA – Pay Television Company Kwesé is seeking for a buyer a month after it went into administration over accumulating debts.

Kwese, which is owned by Econet, a Zimbabwe-based company, last month went into administration and has since appointed Ernst & Young to find buyers for all its outlets in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Zambia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda, Malawi, Mauritius, Ghana, Kenya and Dubai.

Ernst & Young has now placed newspaper advertisements in which they stated that they would “oversee offers for all or part of the company’s shareholdings in businesses” in the various countries that Kwese was operating in.

Mr Ben Mwine, the Kwesé Uganda general manager, has confirmed the latest takeover plans.

“We are having discussions with potential investors and we believe within the next weeks or months, we should know the way forward. Currently, the administrator [Ernst & Young] is handling the entire process,” he said.

Mr Mwine added that they were trying to make “sure that we give the business a good chance and sustain the product because it has potential not only in Uganda but in other markets”.

Towards the close of last year, Kwese announced that it was changing its business strategy with a focus on a digital future. The company was to shift its pay TV broadcast network from mainly delivering content via decoders to Kwesé Free Sports (KFS), Kwesé iflix and Kwesé Play – just a year and a half after launch.

Earlier this August, the company confirmed it will shut its African pay-TV arm Kwesé due to economic issues in its home country of Zimbabwe.

Kwesé TV was launched in Uganda on October 17, 2017, joining a highly competitive market that is largely dominated by Multichoice products – GOtv and DStv, from South Africa – and Chinese StarTimes.

The move highlights the competitive nature of the pay TV market in Uganda.

Pay TV subscription base increased in December in 2018 to 2.1m people from 1.1m in January that year.

While the subscriber base rose by 82.6 per cent, the players in the market are still struggling.

Leading Pay TV, Multichoice in its 2019 annual report noted that it is working to reduce trading losses in its operations in the rest of Africa, excluding South Africa.

The pay TV also revealed that it had faced tough economic conditions due to foreign exchange losses.

“In Africa, tough economic conditions prevailed and foreign exchange rates in our markets depreciated on average around 10 per cent against the dollar. More significant depreciations were experienced in Angola (60 per cent), Zambia (17 per cent) and Ghana (11 per cent) while inflation levels remained elevated in many countries,” the report reads in part.

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