StarTimes of China and ZNBC created a special purpose vehicle called TopStar in Zambia as a build operate and transfer (BOT) project for the the sole purposes of digital migration. In other words, to raise the necessary money and provide the expertise needed to perform the said digital migration project.

TopStar is merely a joint venture created in this respect, with ZNBC having 40% and StarTimes of China 60%. It must be made very clear that ZNBC and StarTimes are just shareholders of the Zambian firm TopStar. It is either ignorance or malicious propaganda or both that has led the opposition to insinuate that StarTimes has a 60% stake in ZNBC. The Chinese firm’s 60% stake is in TopStar.

As a result, a Chinese loan was procured to finance the smooth running of the project and guaranteed by the Zambian government. The loan is to be paid from the proceeds of the operation and in fact, the project has already started paying the interest on the loan. The Zambian government as guarantor will only be made to pay the loan should the project default to service the loan from the money realised from the operation.

The loan has a repayment period of 25 years. During that period, StarTimes and ZNBC will manage the operation of the project. After 25 years, the stake of StarTimes in the joint venture will be relinquished to 30% and ZNBC will have the majority shareholding of 40%. The other 20% shares will be held by public institutions and 10% will be held by Zambian individuals.

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Eagle One – Zambia Analysts
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