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Algeria

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) comprise more than half of the formal Algerian economy.  SOEs are amalgamated into a single line of the state budget and are listed in the official business registry.  To be defined as an SOE, a company must be at least 51 percent owned by the state.

Algerian SOEs are bureaucratic and may be subject to political influence.  There are competing lines of authority at the mid-levels, and contacts report mid- and upper-level managers are reluctant to make decisions because internal accusations of favoritism or corruption are often used to settle political and personal scores.  Senior management teams at SOEs report to their relevant ministry; CEOs of the larger companies such as national hydrocarbons company Sonatrach, national electric utility Sonelgaz, and airline Air Algerie report directly to ministers.  Boards of directors are appointed by the state, and the allocation of these seats is considered political.  SOEs are not known to adhere to the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance.

Legally, public and private companies compete under the same terms with respect to market share, products and services, and incentives.  In reality, private enterprises assert that public companies sometimes receive more favorable treatment.  Private enterprises have the same access to financing as SOEs, but they work with private banks and they are less bureaucratic than their public counterparts.  Public companies refrained from doing business with private banks and a 2008 government directive ordered public companies to work only with public banks.  The directive was later officially rescinded, but public companies continued the practice.  However, the heads of Algeria’s two largest state enterprises, Sonatrach and Sonelgaz, both indicated in 2020 that given current budget pressures they are investigating recourse to foreign financing, including from private banks.  SOEs are subject to the same tax burden and tax rebate policies as their private sector competitors, but business contacts report that the government favors SOEs over private sector companies in terms of access to land.

SOEs are subject to budget constraints.  Audits of public companies can be conducted by the Court of Auditors, a financially autonomous institution.  The constitution explicitly charges it with “ex post inspection of the finances of the state, collectivities, public services, and commercial capital of the state,” as well as preparing and submitting an annual report to the President, heads of both chambers of Parliament, and Prime Minister.  The Court makes its audits public on its website, for free, but with a time delay, which does not conform to international norms.

The Court conducts audits simultaneously but independently from the Ministry of Finance’s year-end reports.  The Court makes its reports available online once finalized and delivered to the Parliament, whereas the Ministry withholds publishing year-end reports until after the Parliament and President have approved them.  The Court’s audit reports cover the entire implemented national budget by fiscal year and examine each annual planning budget that is passed by Parliament.

The General Inspectorate of Finance (IGF), the public auditing body under the supervision of the Ministry of Finance, can conduct “no-notice” audits of public companies.  The results of these audits are sent directly to the Minister of Finance, and the offices of the President and Prime Minister.  They are not made available publicly.  The Court of Auditors and IGF previously had joint responsibility for auditing certain accounts, but they are in the process of eliminating this redundancy.  Further legislation clarifying whether the delineation of responsibility for particular accounts which could rest with the Court of Auditors or the Ministry of Finance’s General Inspection of Finance (IGF) unit has yet to be issued.

Privatization Program

There has been limited privatization of certain projects previously managed by SOEs, and so far restricted to the water sector and possibly a few other sectors.  However, the privatization of SOEs remains publicly sensitive and has been largely halted.

Benin

7. State-Owned Enterprises

There are several wholly owned SOEs operating in the country, including public utilities (electricity and water), fixed and mobile telecommunications, postal services, port and airport management, gas distribution, pension funds, agricultural production, and hotel and convention center management. There is also a number of partially owned SOEs in Benin. Some of these receive subsidies and assistance from the government. There are no available statistics regarding the number of individuals employed by SOEs.

With the exception of public utilities (including electricity and water), pension funds, and landline telephone service for which the public telephone company retains a monopoly, many private enterprises compete with public enterprises on equal terms.

SOE senior management may report directly to a government ministry, a parent agency, or a board of directors comprised of senior government officials along with representatives of civil society and other parastatal constituencies. SOEs are required by law to publish annual reports and hold regular meetings of their boards of directors. Financial statements of SOEs are reviewed by certified accountants, private auditors, and the government’s Bureau of Analysis and Investigation (BAI). The government audits SOEs, though it does not make available information on financial transfers to and from SOEs.

SOEs are established pursuant to presidential decrees, which define their mission and responsibilities. The government appoints senior management and members of the Board of Directors. SOEs are generally run like private entities and are subject to the same tax policies as the private sector. The courts process disputes between SOEs and private companies or organizations.

Privatization Program

Foreign investors may participate in privatization programs. The Talon administration has targeted divestiture programs rather than total privatization of state-owned enterprises.  The state-owned telecommunications company, Benin Telecom Infrastructure, is targeted for either a divestiture program or dissolution by 2021.  With support from MCC, the state-owned electricity utility, Société Beninoise d’Energie Electrique (SBEE), is managed privately through a management contract through 2023, even though the government retains full ownership.  The government is pursuing major transactions to attract private investment into thermal and solar power generation, as well as natural gas supply for power generation. In 2017, the government signed a three-year renewable management contract for the Port of Cotonou with the Belgian firm Port of Antwerp International (PAI).  PAI took over management of the port in May 2018. The move was intended to improve port management and attract foreign investors to fund a planned project to modernize and expand the port.

Botswana

7. State-Owned Enterprises 

State-owned enterprises (SOEs), known as “parastatals,” are majority or 100 percent owned by the GoB.  There is a published list of SOEs at the GoB portal (www.gov.bw) with profiles of financial and development SOEs. Some SOEs are state-sanctioned monopolies, including the Botswana Meat Commission, the Water Utilities Corporation, Botswana Railways, and the Botswana Power Corporation.

The same business registration and licensing laws govern private and government-owned enterprises.  No law or regulation prohibits or restricts private enterprises from competing with SOEs.  Botswana law requires SOEs to publish annual reports, and private sector accountants or the Auditor General audits SOEs depending on how they are constituted.  GoB ministries together with their respective SOEs are compelled on an annual basis to appear before the Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee to provide reports and answer questions regarding their performance.  Some SOEs are not performing well and have been embroiled in scandals involving alleged fraud and mismanagement.

Botswana is not party to the Government Procurement Agreement within the framework of the WTO.

Privatization Program

The GOB has committed to privatization on paper.  It established a task force in 1997 to privatize all of its state-owned companies and formed a Public Enterprises Evaluation and Privatization Agency (PEEPA) to oversee this process.  Implementation of its privatization commitments has been limited to the January 2016 sale offer of 49 percent of the stock of the state-owned Botswana Telecommunications Corporation to Botswana citizens only.  In February 2017, the GoB issued an Expressions of Interest for the privatization of its national airline, but progress stopped due to the decision to re-fleet the airline before privatization.  In early 2019, President Masisi announced the Botswana Meat Commission was being placed in the hands of a private management company prior to privatization. Conversely, the GoB has created new SOEs such as the Okavango Diamond Company, the Mineral Development Company, and Botswana Oil Limited in recent years.

Burkina Faso

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Privatization Program

GoBF announcements for privatization bids are widely distributed, targeting both local and foreign investors.  Bids are published in local papers, international magazines, mailed to different diplomatic missions, e-mailed to interested foreign investors, and published on the Internet on sites such as http://www.dgmarket.com .

Cabo Verde

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Starting in the mid-1990s, Cabo Verde implemented a series of reforms that have transformed a centrally-planned economy into a market-oriented economy. The number of major SOEs to be privatized and where the state owns the majority of the capital has decreased from 40 in the 1990s to five today (ENAPOR, ASA, EMPROFAC, ELECTRA, and CABENAVE).

Government interference in SOEs in Cabo Verde is relatively minor. With the exception of certain industries which remain protected (e.g., freight handling at the airport, port authority, importation of pharmaceutical products, and distribution of electricity), private and SOEs compete freely and without major government interference. In these liberalized markets, both private and SOEs have the same access to credit, markets, and business opportunities. SOEs in Cabo Verde are most active in the transportation sector. They are generally managed by a board of directors which is nominated by the minister in charge of the respective sector. These boards of directors have between three and five members. SOEs are generally evaluated based on their economic or financial performance. All SOEs are required to produce annual reports and must submit their books to independent auditors. Allegations about the qualifications of the CEOs of SOEs abound; many purport to believe that the importance of political connections outweighs the importance of technical qualifications in leadership of these behemoths. Even though not all directors are politically appointed, they must maintain the confidence and support of the government.

Cabo Verde is not a party to the Government Procurement Agreement (GPA) within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO). It tries to adhere to the OECD’s guidelines on Corporate Governance. In general, there is fair competition between SOEs and private sector enterprises, except in the transportation and utilities sectors.

Privatization Program

Privatization comes either through private sector sales or through liquidation. Cabo Verde Airlines, two main utility companies, Electra (electricity and water), Cabo Verde Telecom, three banks, and the main state-owned entities in the tourism sector have all been sold off. All privatization or liquidation processes ran smoothly with the exception of Electra, which reverted to government ownership. The decision to repossess Electra resulted from a breach of contract with the Portuguese investor. Consensual agreement was reached during the negotiations.

The government sold its shares of fuel company Empresa Nacional de Combustiveis (ENACOL) and local bank Banco Comercial do Atlantico (BCA) via the stock exchange. The long-struggling national airline, Cabo Verde Airlines, has been privatized after years of bloated payrolls, non-performance, and growing costs to the government.

On March 1, 2019, Cabo Verde and Icelandair signed a deal transferring 51 percent ownership of Cabo Verde Airlines (CVA, formerly known as TACV) to Loftleidir Cabo Verde (LCV). The state progressively divested itself of its holdings in the company: 10 percent of its equity was made available to former CVA employees and the diaspora community (with a 15 percent discount rate), and the remaining 39 percent of the shares are expected to be made available to national and international investors in 2020. Per the terms of the contract, LCV will not be able to sell its shares for a five-year period without prior government consent. After five years, the government will retain pre-emption rights.

On hold due to the COVID-19 crisis are the privatizations or concessions for the management of the national Port and Airport authorities (ENAPOR and ASA, respectively), and the pharmaceutical company EMPROFAC. The government had hoped to conclude the ASA and ENAPOR privatization processes in 2020.

This privatization agenda is aligned with the PEDS 2017 – 2021, looking at privatizations and concessions as tools to bring new dynamics to the economy, through new business and investment opportunities to national and international private sector. The government hopes to align its progress with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to private sector-driven investment rather than international aid or cooperation. It has selected seven big sectors – transportation, tourism, the blue economy, ICT, agriculture, logistics, and energy – as the major drivers. As the bid for private sector investment advances, the government hopes these key sectors will see reduced fiscal and budgetary risks and improved performance; it should also diminish the role of certain SOEs and the presence of the government in the economy.

Both foreign and national investors can participate in the public bidding process, which is transparent and non-discriminatory but fraught with complications as the people in charge become familiar with the process.

Egypt

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State and military-owned companies compete directly with private companies in many sectors of the Egyptian economy. According to Public Sector Law 203/1991, state-owned enterprises should not receive preferential treatment from the government, nor should they be accorded any exemption from legal requirements applicable to private companies.  In addition to the state-owned enterprises groups above, 40 percent of the banking sector’s assets are controlled by three state-owned banks (Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, and National Bank of Egypt).   The 226 SOEs in Egypt subject to Law 203/1991 are affiliated with 10 ministries and employ 450,000 workers. The Ministry of Public Sector Enterprises controls 118 companies operating under eight holding companies that employ 209,000 workers.  The most profitable sectors include tourism, real estate, and transportation.  The ministry publishes a list of its SOEs on its website, http://www.mpbs.gov.eg/Arabic/Affiliates/HoldingCompanies/Pages/default.aspx  and http://www.mpbs.gov.eg/Arabic/Affiliates/AffiliateCompanies/Pages/default.aspx .

In an attempt to encourage growth of the private sector, privatization of state-owned enterprises and state-owned banks accelerated under an economic reform program that took place from 1991 to 2008.  Following the 2011 revolution, third parties have brought cases in court to reverse privatization deals, and in a number of these cases, Egyptian courts have ruled to reverse the privatization of several former public companies. Most of these cases are still under appeal.

The state-owned telephone company, Telecom Egypt, lost its legal monopoly on the local, long-distance, and international telecommunication sectors in 2005.  Nevertheless, Telecom Egypt held a de facto monopoly until late 2016 because the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) had not issued additional licenses to compete in these sectors.  In October 2016, NTRA, however, implemented a unified license regime that allows companies to offer both fixed line and mobile networks.  The agreement allows Telecom Egypt to enter the mobile market and the three existing mobile companies to enter the fixed line market.  The introduction of Telecom Egypt as a new mobile operator in the Egyptian market will increase competition among operators, which will benefit users by raising the bar on quality of services as well as improving prices.  Egypt is not a party to the World Trade Organization’s Government Procurement Agreement.

OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs 

SOEs in Egypt are structured as individual companies controlled by boards of directors and grouped under government holding companies that are arranged by industry, including Petroleum Products & Gas, Spinning & Weaving; Metallurgical Industries; Chemical Industries; Pharmaceuticals; Food Industries; Building & Construction; Tourism, Hotels & Cinema; Maritime & Inland Transport; Aviation; and Insurance.  The holding companies are headed by boards of directors appointed by the Prime Minister with input from the relevant Minister.

Privatization Program

The Egyptian government’s most recent plans to privatize stakes in SOEs began in March 2018 with the successful public offering of a minority stake in the Eastern Tobacco Company.  Since then plans for privatizing stakes in 22 other SOEs, including up to 30 percent of the shares of Banque du Caire, have been delayed due to adverse market conditions and increased global volatility.  Egypt’s privatization program is based on Public Enterprise Law 203//1991, which permits the sale of SOEs to foreign entities.  In 1991, Egypt began a privatization program for the sale of several hundred wholly or partially SOEs and all public shares of at least 660 joint venture companies (joint venture is defined as mixed state and private ownership, whether foreign or domestic).  Bidding criteria for privatizations were generally clear and transparent.

In 2014, President Sisi signed a law limiting appeal rights on state-concluded contracts to reduce third-party challenges to prior government privatization deals.  The law was intended to reassure investors concerned by legal challenges brought against privatization deals and land sales dating back to the pre-2008 period.  Ongoing court cases had put many of these now-private firms, many of which are foreign-owned, in legal limbo over concerns that they may be returned to state ownership.  In early 2018, the Egyptian government announced that it would begin selling off stakes in some of its state-owned enterprises over the next few years through Egypt’s stock exchange.

Ethiopia

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) dominate major sectors of the economy. There is a state monopoly or state dominance in telecommunications, power, banking, insurance, air transport, shipping, railway, industrial parks, and petroleum importing. State-owned enterprises have considerable advantages over private firms, including priority access to credit and customs clearances. While there are no conclusive reports of credit preference for these entities, there are indications that they receive incentives, such as priority foreign exchange allocation, preferences in government tenders, and marketing assistance. Ethiopia does not publish financial data for most state-owned enterprises, but Ethiopian Airlines and the Commercial Bank of Ethiopia have transparent accounts.

Ethiopia is not a member to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and does not adhere to the guidelines on corporate governance of SOEs. Corporate governance of SOEs is structured and monitored by a board of directors composed of senior government officials and politically-affiliated individuals, but there is a lack of transparency in the structure of SOEs.

Privatization Program

The government in July of 2018 announced its intention to privatize a minority share of Ethiopian Airlines, EthioTelecom, Ethiopian Shipping and Logistics Service Enterprise, and power generation projects, and to fully privatize sugar projects, railways, and industrial parks. The privatization program will be implemented through public tenders and will be open to local and foreign investors. The government has prioritized privatizations in the telecommunications and sugar sectors, and in those sectors has begun asset valuations of the enterprises, standardization of the financial reports, and establishment of modernized legal and regulatory frameworks. The GOE has also reached out to potential investors and has begun creating tender and bidding documents that will guide the privatizations. To broaden the role and participation of the private sector in the economy, and to implement the privatization program in an open and transparent manner, in December 2019, the Council of Ministers approved a new privatization law, which is awaiting approval by the parliament.

The government has sold more than 370 public enterprises since 1995, mainly small companies in the trade and service sectors, most of which were nationalized by the Derg military regime in the 1970s. Currently, twenty-two SOEs are under the Public Enterprise, Assets, and Administration Agency.

Gambia

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Private enterprises are allowed to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations, such as licenses and supplies. State-owned enterprises are active in tourism, aviation, maritime services, public transport, power generation, telecommunications, road building, and housing. There is no publicly available published list of SOEs.

By using the Guidelines to form an integral part in organizing good practices among their state-owned enterprise sectors, promoting the implementation of the Guidelines in establishing their ownership practices, defining a framework for corporate governance of state-owned enterprises, and disseminating this Recommendation of the Guidelines among Ministries. Additionally, the GOTG is open to a review by the Working Party on State Ownership and Privatization Practices and for follow up on the implementation of the OECD Council on Corporate Governance of State-Owned Enterprises’ Recommendations.

Privatization Program

The Government of The Gambia is currently not engaged in any forms of privatization programs.

Madagascar

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The government has shares in 53 companies, with a majority stake in 27 enterprises; in 11 cases, the government owns over 95 percent of the entity.  Detailed information about state-owned companies (SOEs) is not easy to come by but they operate in many key sectors such as aviation, public utility (running water and electricity), ports, hotels, insurance, finance, woodworking, mining, maintenance and construction of ships, and real estate.  The government has minority shares in three major banks, the beverage industry, oil distribution, and mining activities.  The two most well-known SOEs are JIRAMA (100 percent state-owned), the water and electricity utility, and Air Madagascar whose equity tie-up with France’s Air Austral is in the process of unraveling.  The GOM has spent substantial amounts subsidizing the operations of both of these entities.  Improvement in the governance and a return to profitability of SOEs is a long-standing condition for future assistance by multilateral donor institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF.

In theory, private enterprises are, on the whole, allowed to compete with SOEs under the same terms and conditions for market access, credit, and other business operations.  The reality is somewhat different.  State-owned enterprises dominate the sectors they operate in and stifle competition.  For instance, in the airline industry, Air Madagascar offers unreliable service and charges high fares but faces little competition domestically or regionally since the GOM has restricted access to flight routes for other airlines.  Any investor seeking to compete with an SOE in Madagascar should consider not only market-entry difficulties but also its ability to compete for scarce resources and permits.

Privatization Program

The 2004 law on privatization prohibits the Government from owning more than 50 percent of a privatized company.  The fledgling privatization program initiated before 2009 has given way to more government control as reflected by the GOM’s recent moves to increase what it calls “the production share of the government” in the mining sector.

In the past, foreign investors participated actively in these privatization programs. Almost all state-owned banks were purchased by foreign investors including foreign state-owned banks.

Currently, the GOM does not have a privatization program on its agenda.

Mauritania

7. State-Owned Enterprises

SOEs and the parastatal sector in Mauritania represent an important portion of the economy.  They have an impact on employment, service delivery, and most importantly fiscal reserves given their size in the economy and state budget.  In recent years, parastatal companies and SOEs have experienced significant business and financial problems in terms of increasing levels of debt, operational losses, and payment delays.  This increase in fiscal reserve risk has led the government to provide subsidies to SOEs.

Hard budget constraints for SOEs are written into the Public Procurement Code but are not enforced.  SOMELEC, the state-owned electricity company, has been operating in a precarious financial situation for many years.  The company relies on government financial support to remain operational.

Most state-owned enterprises in Mauritania have independent boards of directors.  The directors are usually appointed based on political affiliations.

There are about 120 SOEs and parastatal companies active in a wide range of sectors including energy, network utilities, mining, petroleum, telecommunications, transportation, commerce, and fisheries.  Parastatal and wholly owned SOEs remain the major employer in the country.  This includes the National Mining Company, SNIM, which is by far the largest Mauritanian enterprise and the second largest employer in the country after public administration.

The publicly available financial information on parastatal and wholly owned SOEs is incomplete and outdated, with the exception of budget transfers.  There is no publication of the expenditures SOEs allocate to research and development.  In addition, they execute the largest portion of government contracts, receiving preference over the private sector.  According to the Public Procurement Code, there are no formal barriers to competition with SOEs.  However, informal barriers such as denial of access to credit and/or land exist.

Privatization Program

We not aware of any privatization programs during the reporting period.

Mauritius

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The government’s stated policy is to act as a facilitator to business, leaving production to the private sector.  The government, however, still controls key services directly or through parastatal companies in the power and water, television broadcasting, and postal service sectors.  The complete list of SOEs can be found at https://www.icac.mu/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/The-Declaration-of-Assets-Stated-owned-Enterprises.pdf.   

The government also holds controlling shares in the State Bank of Mauritius, Air Mauritius (the national airline), and Mauritius Telecom.  These state-controlled companies have Boards of Directors on which seats are allocated to senior government officials.  The government nominates the chairperson and CEO of each of these companies.  In April 2020, Air Mauritius requested voluntary administration, similar to Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States, because it could not comply with financial obligations.

The government also invests in a wide variety of Mauritian businesses through its investment arm, the State Investment Corporation.  The government is also the owner of Maubank and the National Insurance Company.

Two parastatal entities are involved in the importation of agricultural products:  the Agricultural Marketing Board (AMB) and the State Trading Corporation (STC).  The AMB’s role is to ensure that the supply of certain basic food products is constant and their prices remain affordable.  The STC is the only authorized importer of petroleum products, liquefied petroleum gas, and flour.  SOEs purchase from or supply goods and services to private sector and foreign firms through tenders.

Audited accounts of SOEs are published in their annual reports.  Mauritius is part of the OECD network on corporate governance of state-owned enterprises in southern Africa.

Privatization Program

The government has no specific privatization program.  In 2017, however, as part of its broader water reform efforts, the government agreed to a World Bank recommendation to appoint a private operator to maintain and operate the country’s potable water distribution system.  Under the World Bank’s proposed public-private partnership, the Central Water Authority (CWA) would continue to own distribution and supply assets, and will be responsible for business planning, setting tariffs, capital expenditure, and monitoring and enforcing the private operator’s performance.

In March 2018, despite protest by trade unions and consumer associations, the Minister of Energy and Public Utilities reiterated his intention to engage by the end of the year a private operator as a strategic partner to take over the water distribution services of the CWA.  To date, this has not materialized.  The government has said for years it planned to sell control of Maubank, into which it has injected about USD 173 million since it nationalized the bank in 2015.  In the 2019-2020 budget speech, the prime minister said the government would sell non-strategic assets to reduce government debt.  His office never identified a list of assets, but in parliament the prime minister has mentioned Maubank, the National Insurance Company, and Casinos of Mauritius as possible divestments.

Morocco

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Boards of directors (in single-tier boards) or supervisory boards (in dual-tier boards) oversee Moroccan SOEs.  The Financial Control Act and the Limited Liability Companies Act govern these bodies.  The Ministry of Economy and Finance’s Department of Public Enterprises and Privatization monitors SOE governance.  Pursuant to Law No. 69-00, SOE annual accounts are publicly available.  Under Law No. 62-99, or the Financial Jurisdictions Code, the Court of Accounts and the Regional Courts of Accounts audit the management of a number of public enterprises.  A list of SOEs is available on the Ministry of Finance’s website .

As of March 2020, the Moroccan Treasury held a direct share in 225 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and 43 companies.  Several sectors remain under public monopoly, managed either directly by public institutions (rail transport, some postal services, and airport services) or by municipalities (wholesale distribution of fruit and vegetables, fish, and slaughterhouses).  The Office Cherifien des Phosphates (OCP), a public limited company that is 95 percent held by the Moroccan government, is a world-leading exporter of phosphate and derived products.  Morocco has opened several traditional government activities using delegated-management or concession arrangements to private domestic or foreign operators, which are generally subject to tendering procedures.  Examples include water and electricity distribution, construction and operation of motorways, and the management of non-hazardous wastes.  In some cases, SOEs continue to control the infrastructure while allowing private-sector competition through concessions.  SOEs benefit from budgetary transfers from the state treasury for investment expenditures.

Morocco established the Moroccan National Commission on Corporate Governance in 2007.  It prepared the first Moroccan Code of Good Corporate Governance Practices in 2008.  In 2011, the Commission drafted a code dedicated to SOEs, drawing on the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance of SOEs.  The code, which came into effect in 2012, aims to enhance SOEs’ overall performance.  It requires greater use of standardized public procurement and accounting rules, outside audits, the inclusion of independent directors, board evaluations, greater transparency, and better disclosure.  The Moroccan government prioritizes a number of governance-related initiatives including an initiative to help SOEs contribute to the emergence of regional development clusters.  The government is also attempting to improve the use of multi-year contracts with major SOEs as a tool to enhance performance and transparency.

Privatization Program

The government relaunched Morocco’s privatization program in the 2019 budget.  Parliament enacted the updated annex to Law 38-89 (which authorizes the transfer of publicly held shares to the private sector) in February 2019 through publication in the official bulletin, including the list of entities to be privatized. The state still holds significant shares in the main telecommunications companies, banks, and insurance companies, as well as railway and air transport companies.

Namibia

7. State-Owned Enterprises

While Namibian companies are generally open to foreign investment, government-owned enterprises have generally been closed to all investors (Namibian and foreign), with the exception of joint ventures discussed below.  More than 90 State Owned Enterprises (SOEs, also known as parastatals) include a wide variety of commercial companies, financial institutions, regulatory bodies, educational institutions, boards, and agencies.  Generally, employment at SOEs is highly sought after because their remuneration packages are not bound by public service constraints.  Parastatals provide most essential services, such as telecommunications, transport, water, and electricity.  A list of SOEs can be found on the Ministry of Public Enterprises’ website: www.mpe.gov.na .  The following are the most prominent SOEs:

  • Air Namibia (air carrier)
  • Namibia Airports Company (airport management company)
  • Namibia Institute of Pathology (medical laboratories)
  • Namibia Wildlife Resorts (tourism)
  • Namport (maritime port authority)
  • Nampost (postal and courier services)
  • Namwater (water sanitation and provisioning)
  • Roads Contractor Company
  • Telecom Namibia (primarily fixed-line) and MTC (mobile communications)
  • TransNamib (rail company)
  • NamPower (electricity generation and transmission)
  • Namcor (national petroleum company)
  • Epangelo (mining)

The government owns numerous other enterprises, from media ventures to a fishing company.  Parastatals own assets worth approximately 40 percent of GDP and most receive subsidies from the government. Most SOEs are perennially unprofitable and have only managed to stay solvent with government subsidies.  In industries where private companies compete with SOEs (e.g., tourism and fishing), SOEs are sometimes perceived to receive favorable concessions from the government.  Foreign investors have participated in joint ventures with the government in a number of sectors, including mobile telecommunications and mining. In 2015, the Namibian President created a new Ministry of Public Enterprises intended to improve the management and performance of SOEs.  Legislation to shift oversight of commercial SOEs from line ministries to the Ministry of Public Enterprises was passed by Parliament in 2019.

Privatization Program

Namibia does not have a privatization program, but discussions have begun within the government to consider privatizing certain SOEs.

Nigeria

7. State-Owned Enterprises

The Nigerian government does not have an established practice consistent with the OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance for state-owned enterprises (SOEs), but SOEs do have enabling legislation that governs their ownership.  To legalize the existence of state-owned enterprises, provisions have been made in the Nigerian constitution under socio-economic development in section 16 (1) of the 1979 and 1999 Constitutions respectively.  The government has privatized many former SOEs to encourage more efficient operations, such as state-owned telecommunications company Nigerian Telecommunications and mobile subsidiary Mobile Telecommunications in 2014.

Nigeria does not operate a centralized ownership system for its state-owned enterprises.  The enabling legislation for each SOE stipulates its ownership and governance structure.  The Boards of Directors are usually appointed by the President on the recommendation of the relevant Minister.  The Boards operate and are appointed in line with the enabling legislation which usually stipulates the criteria for appointing Board members.  Directors are appointed by the Board within the relevant sector.  In a few cases, however, appointments have been viewed as a reward to political affiliates.

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is Nigeria’s most prominent state-owned enterprise.  NNPC Board appointments are made by the presidency, but day-to-day management is overseen by the Group Managing Director (GMD).  The GMD reports to the Minister of Petroleum.  In the current administration the President has retained that ministerial role for himself, and the appointed Minister of State for Petroleum acts as the de facto Minister of Petroleum in the President’s stead.  The National Assembly passed a Petroleum Industry Governance Bill in March 2018, but the President sent it back to the National Assembly requesting amendments.  The bill would clarify regulatory, policy, and operational roles in the petroleum sector and pave the way for partial privatization of NNPC.

NNPC is Nigeria’s biggest and arguably most important state-owned enterprise and is responsible for exploration, refining, petrochemicals, products transportation, and marketing.  It owns and operates Nigeria’s four refineries (one each in Warri and Kaduna and two in Port Harcourt), all of which operate far below capacity, if at all.  Nigeria’s tax agency receives taxes on petroleum profits and other hydrocarbon-related levies, while the Department of Petroleum Resources under the Ministry of Petroleum Resources collects rents, royalties, license fees, bonuses, and other payments.  In an effort to provide greater transparency in the collection of revenues that accrue to the government, the Buhari administration requires these revenues, including some from the NNPC, to be deposited in the Treasury Single Account.

Another key state-owned enterprise is the Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN), responsible for the operation of Nigeria’s national electrical grid.  Private power generation and distribution companies have accused the TCN grid of significant inefficiency and inadequate technology which greatly hinder the nation’s electricity output and supply.  TCN emerged from the defunct National Electric Power Authority as an incorporated entity in 2005.  It is the only major component of Nigeria’s electric power sector, which was not privatized in 2013.

Privatization Program

The Privatization and Commercialization Act of 1999 established the National Council on Privatization, the policy-making body overseeing the privatization of state-owned enterprises, and the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), the implementing agency for designated privatizations.  The BPE has focused on the privatization of key sectors, including telecommunications and power, and calls for core investors to acquire controlling shares in formerly state-owned enterprises.

The BPE has privatized and concessioned more than 140 enterprises since 1999, including an aluminum complex, a steel complex, cement manufacturing firms, hotels, a petrochemical plant, aviation cargo handling companies, vehicle assembly plants, and electricity generation and distribution companies.  The electricity transmission company remains state-owned.  Foreign investors can and do participate in BPE’s privatization process.  The BPE also retains partial ownership in some of the privatized companies.  (It holds a 40 percent stake in the power distribution companies.)

The National Assembly has questioned the propriety of some of these privatizations, with one ongoing case related to an aluminum complex privatization the subject of a Supreme Court ruling on ownership.  In addition, the failure of the 2013 power sector privatization to restore financial viability to the sector has raised criticism of the privatized power generation and distribution companies.  Nevertheless, the government’s long-delayed sale in 2014 of state-owned Nigerian Telecommunications and Mobile Telecommunications shows a continued commitment to the privatization model.

Rwanda

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Rwandan law allows private enterprises to compete with public enterprises under the same terms and conditions with respect to access to markets, credit, and other business operations.  Since 2006, the GOR has made efforts to privatize SOEs; reduce the government’s non-controlling shares in private enterprises; and attract FDI, especially in the ICT, tourism, banking, and agriculture sectors, but progress has been slow.  Current SOEs include water and electricity utilities, as well as companies in construction, ICT, aviation, mining, insurance, agriculture, finance, and other investments.  Some investors complain about competition from state-owned and ruling party-aligned businesses.  SOEs and utilities appear in the national budget, but the financial performance of most SOEs is only detailed in an annex that is not publicly available.  The most recent state finances audit report of the OAG also covers SOEs and has sections criticizing the management of some of the organizations.   SOEs are governed by boards with most members having other government positions.

State-owned non-financial corporations include Ngali Holdings, Horizon Group Ltd, REG, Water and Sanitation Corporation, RwandAir, National Post Office, Rwanda Printery Company Ltd, King Faisal Hospital, Muhabura Multichoice Ltd, Prime Holdings, Rwanda Grain and Cereals Corporation, Kinazi Cassava Plant, and the Rwanda Inter-Link Transport Company.  State-owned financial corporations include the NBR, Development Bank of Rwanda, Special Guarantee Fund, Rwanda National Investment Trust Ltd, ADF, BDF and the Rwanda Social Security Board.  The GOR has interests in the BoK, Rwanda Convention Bureau, BSC, CIMERWA, Gasabo 3D Ltd, AoS, KTRN, Dubai World Nyungwe Lodge, and Akagera Management Company, among others.

Privatization Program

Rwanda continues to carry out a privatization program that has attracted foreign investors in strategic areas ranging from telecommunications and banking to tea production and tourism.  As of 2017 (latest data available), 56 companies have been fully privatized, seven were liquidated, and 20 more were in the process of privatization.  RDB’s Strategic Investment Department is responsible for implementing and monitoring the privatization program. Some observers have questioned the transparency of certain transactions, as a number of transactions were undertaken through mutual agreements directly between the government and the private investor, some of whom have personal relationships with senior government officials, rather than public offerings.

São Tomé and Príncipe

7. State-Owned Enterprises

When STP’s cocoa plantations were shut down in the late 1980s, most SOEs also closed.  EMAE (Water and Power Supply Company), ENAPORT (Port Authority Company), ENASA (National Company for Airports and Air Safety), and Empresa dos Correios (Post Office) are 100 percent state-owned enterprises but with some financial autonomy.  Under joint venture, the government holds 49 percent of CST (Santomean Telecommunication Company) while the largest Brazilian telecommunication company, OI, owns 51 percent.  The government has a 48 percent stake in BISTP (International Bank of STP), while the Portuguese Caixa Geral de Depositos holds 27 percent, and the African Investment Bank holds 25 percent.  All four fully owned state enterprises are unprofitable and are annually audited by the Ministry of Planning, Finance and Blue Economy and biennially by the Court of Audit.  They have financial autonomy, but largely depend on funds from the state budget.

Privatization Program

STP does not have an active privatization program. However, thorough its periodical reports, IMF has been recommending the privatization of the SOEs, especially EMAE.

Senegal

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Senegal has generally reduced government involvement in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) during the last three decades. However, the government still owns full or majority interests in approximately 20 such companies, including the national electricity company (Senelec), Dakar’s public bus service, the Port of Dakar, the national postal company (National Post), the national rail company, and the national water utility. The state-owned electricity company, Senelec, retains control over power transmission and distribution, but it relies increasingly on independent power producers to generate power. The government has also retained control of the national oil company, Petrosen, which is involved in hydrocarbon exploration in partnership with foreign oil companies and operates a small refinery dependent on government subsidies. The government has modest and declining ownership of agricultural enterprises, including a state-owned company involved in rice production. In 2018, the government re-launched a wholly state-owned airline, Air Senegal. The government owns a minority share in Sonatel-Orange Senegal, the country’s largest internet and mobile communications provider.

The Direction du Secteur Parapublic, an agency within the Ministry of Finance, manages the government’s ownership rights in enterprises. The government’s budget includes financial allocations to these enterprises, including subsidies to Senelec. SOE revenues are not projected in budget documents, but actual revenues are included in quarterly reports published by the Ministry of Finance. Senegal’s supreme audit institution (the Cour des Comptes) conducts audits of the public sector and SOEs. Its reports are made publicly available at www.coursdescomptes.sn and www.ige.sn, but not always in a timely fashion.

Privatization Program

The government has no program for privatizing the remaining SOEs.

Seychelles

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Seychelles is one of 14 countries participating in the State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Network for Southern Africa, which was launched in 2007 to support, in collaboration with the OECD, southern African countries in their efforts to improve the performance of SOEs.

According to the Public Enterprise Monitoring Commission Regulations 2019 there are currently 34 state-owned commercial public enterprises,  which have either been established using public financial resources or in which the government has a significant shareholding. These government-owned organizations are responsible for the delivery of both commercial and social objectives. They offer a range of essential services, including electricity, water, roads, seaports, fuel supply, import/export, retail, transport, civil aviation, housing, and tourism. In his 2019 State of the Nation Address, President Faure announced that the government would inject $6 million into Air Seychelles each year for the next five years. At the end of 2018, total assets of SOEs amounted to $2 billion, representing 189 percent of total GDP while the total net income was $89 million.

SOEs are generally free to purchase and/or supply goods and services from private sector and foreign firms. However, there is a growing concern in the business community that SOEs such as the Seychelles Trading Company (STC) have been allowed to exceed their explicit mandate and compete unfairly. For example, STC has expanded its operations in the retail business with the opening of a hypermarket, a hardware store, and a luxury goods department selling perfumes and designer bags. Most SOEs and parastatal bodies maintain a board of directors and make regular reports to the corresponding ministry. The President and the responsible Minister have authority over the size and composition of the boards of SOEs. The Public Enterprise Monitoring Commission (PEMC), set up in 2013 through the PEMC Act, is an independent institution responsible for monitoring financial, governance, and transparency issues related to public enterprises. Governance and operational assessments of six major SOEs were conducted in 2016 with World Bank assistance. On this basis, an implementation plan for governance and operational review of public enterprises for the period 2017-2019 was prepared and approved by the Cabinet of Ministers.

Audited financial statements of SOEs are published annually on the PEMC website (https://www.pemc.sc/reports ). The GOS has published a Code of Governance for Public Entities to provide guidelines to improve the governance, monitoring and control of public entities in Seychelles. The Code, which was developed by the PEMC along with other stakeholders, can be accessed on its website: https://www.pemc.sc/resource-centre.

Privatization Program

In his 2018 budget speech, the Minister of Finance announced that his Ministry will call on private sector investors to enter into public-private partnership initiatives or partial privatization of the following SOEs: (i) L’Union Estate Company, (ii) Indian Ocean Tuna, (iii) Land Marine Ltd., (iv) European Investment Bank’s shares in Development Bank of Seychelles, and (v) Agence Francaise de Developpement’s shares in Development Bank of Seychelles. In his March 2018 State of the Nation address, the President announced that 20 percent of the Seychelles Petroleum Corporation would be privatized beginning November 2018, but this decision was later withdrawn. Similar privatization plans were announced in previous years, but progress has been slow. The Embassy is not aware of any other formal legal barriers to foreign investors participating in privatization.

Somalia

7. State-Owned Enterprises

There are no fully or partially state-owned active enterprises in Somalia.

Privatization Program

The government does not own any business entity, therefore there are no state-owned entities to privatize. The World Bank has supported development of a public-private partnership law but parliament has not yet acted on the draft law.

South Africa

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) play a significant role in the South African economy.  In key sectors such as electricity, transport (air, rail, freight and pipelines), and telecommunications, SOEs play a lead role, often defined by law, although limited competition is allowed in some sectors (e.g., telecommunications and air).  The government’s interest in these sectors often competes with and discourages foreign investment.  South Africa’s overall fixed investment was 19 percent of GDP.  The SOEs share of the investment was 21 percent while private enterprise contributed 63 percent (government spending made up the remainder of 16 percent).  The IMF estimates that the debt of the SOEs would add 13.5 percent to the overall national debt.

The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) has oversight responsibility in full or in part for seven of the approximately 700 SOEs that exist at the national, provincial and local levels:  Alexkor (diamonds); Denel (military equipment); Eskom (electricity generation, transmission and distribution); South African Express and Mango (budget airlines); South African Airways (national carrier); South African Forestry Company (SAFCOL – (forestry); and Transnet (transportation).   These seven SOEs employ approximately 105,000 people. For other national-level SOEs, the appropriate cabinet minister acts as shareholder on behalf of the state. The Department of Transport, for example, has oversight of the state-owned South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL), Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA), and Airports Company South Africa (ACSA), which operates nine of South Africa’s airports. The Department of Communications has oversight of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

Combined, South Africa’s SOEs that fall under DPE’s authority posted a loss of R15.5 billion (USD 1.3 billion) in the 2017/2018 financial year. In recent years many have been plagued by mismanagement and corruption, and repeated government bailouts have exposed the public sector’s balance sheet to sizable contingent liabilities. The election of President Cyril Ramaphosa and appointment of Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan signaled a renewed emphasis on improving SOE governance and performance.

The state-owned electricity giant Eskom generates approximately 95 percent of the electricity used in South Africa.  Coal-fired power stations generate approximately 93 percent of Eskom’s electricity.  Eskom’s core business activities are generation, transmission, trading and distribution.  South Africa’s electricity system operates under strain because of low availability factors for base load generation capacity due to maintenance problems.  The electricity grid’s capacity reserve margins frequently fall under two percent, well below international norms.  Beginning in November 2013, Eskom periodically declared “electricity emergencies,” and asked major industrial users to reduce consumption by ten percent for specified periods (usually one to two days).   To meet rising electricity demand, Eskom is building new power stations (including two of the world’s largest coal-fired power stations, but both are years overdue and over budget).  Eskom and independent industry analysts anticipate South Africa’s electricity grid will remain constrained for at least the next several years.  In December 2019 Eskom implemented State 6 load shedding, when portions of the grid are put offline for planned or unplanned maintenance on a rotating basis, which was a major blow to the economy and raised concerns about the viability of Eskom’s ability to generate sufficient power to meet South Africa’s electricity needs. In February 2019, President Ramaphosa announced that Eskom would be split into multiple entities for power generation, transmission, and distribution, but new structural changes have not occurred within the utility other than a new CEO starting in February 2020.

In October 2019 the DMRE finalized its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which outlines South Africa’s plan for new power generation up until 2020. The IRP calls for an increase in renewable energy, the decommissioning of coal-fired power plants, and does not provide for new nuclear power. The South African government has implemented a renewable energy independent power producer procurement program (REIPPP) that in the past three years has added 1500Mw of a planned 3900Mw of renewable energy production to the grid and in April 2018 signed 27 Independent Power Producer agreements to provide an additional 2,300 MW to the grid. DMRE published a Request for Information (RFI) with the public comment period ending on January 31, 2020 for new power generation. Companies were asked to provide solutions for energy generation that the government would consider in developing procurement requests for proposals. Given the new IRP, the RFI, and Eskom’s implementation of load shedding, industry is expecting new procurement rounds to be announced for renewable energy and battery storage in 2020. Considering that new energy generation procurements will take place and there is the potential for a new bid round for the REIPPP, recent credit rating agency downgrades could impact investors ability to obtain credit to finance long-term energy deals. All three major credit ratings agencies have downgraded Eskom’s debt. The rating agencies’ decision follows Moody’s downgrade of South Africa’s sovereign debt rating in March 2020, affecting South African government-related entities such as Eskom.

Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), the monopoly responsible for South Africa’s ports, charges some of the highest shipping fees in the world.  In March 2014, Transnet announced an average overall tariff increase of 8.5 percent at its ports to finance a USD 240 million modernization effort.  High tariffs on containers subsidize bulk shipments of coal and iron ore, thereby favoring the export of raw materials over finished ones.  According to the South African Ports Regulator, raw materials exporters paid as much as one quarter less than exporters of finished products.  TNPA is a division of Transnet, a state-owned company that manages the country’s port, rail and pipeline networks.  In April 2012, Transnet launched its Market Driven Strategy (MDS), a R336 billion (USD 28 billion) investment program to modernize its port and rail infrastructure.  Transnet’s March 2014 selection of four OEMs to manufacture 1064 locomotives is part of the MDS.  This CAPEX is being 2/3 funded by operating profits with the remainder from the international capital markets.  In 2016, Transnet reported it had invested R124 billion (USD 10.3 billion) in the previous four years in rail, ports, and pipeline infrastructure.  In recent years ratings agencies have downgraded Transnet’s rating to below the investment-grade threshold. In November 2019 S&P downgraded Transnet’s local currency rating from BB+ to BB.

Direct aviation links between the United States and South Africa are limited to flights between Atlanta, New York (JFK), and Washington (Dulles) to Johannesburg and Newark to Cape Town.  The growth of low-cost carriers in South Africa has reduced domestic airfares, but private carriers are likely to struggle against national carriers without further air liberalization in the region and in Africa.  The launch of the Single African Air Transport Market, which is composed of 23 African Union member states including South Africa, in January 2018 demonstrates the potential for further cooperation on the continent.

In South Africa, the state-owned carrier, South African Airways (SAA), relies on the government for financial assistance to stay afloat and received back-to-back bailouts of R5 billion (USD 357 million) in 2018 alone to repay creditors.  That same year, the airline’s management requested a R21.7 billion (USD 1.55 billion) bailout from the government over three years to turn the company around. In 2019, however, creditors initiated business rescue proceedings, the equivalent of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, to restructure and salvage the airline after a crippling strike over wage increases left the airline’s finances in complete disarray. SAA last released its earnings for fiscal year 2017/2018, in which it lost R5.7 billion (USD 407 million) and brought the company’s cumulative losses since 2011 to a total of R23 billion (USD 1.65 billion).

The telecommunications sector in South Africa, while advanced for the continent, is hampered by regulatory uncertainty and poor implementation of the digital migration, both of which contribute to the high cost of data.  In 2006, South Africa agreed to meet an International Telecommunication Union deadline to achieve analogue-to-digital migration by June 1, 2015.  As of May 2020, South Africa has initiated but not completed the migration.  Until this process is finalized, South Africa will not be able to effectively allocate the spectrum freed up by the conversion.  The biggest development in 2019 was the unveiling of the Department of Communications and Digital Technologies (DCDT), which reintegrated the Department of Communications (DOC) and the Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) that had been split 2014.

In October 2016, DTPS released a policy paper addressing the planned course of action to realize the potential of the ICT sector.  The paper advocates for open access requirements that could overhaul how telecommunications firms gain access to and use infrastructure.  It also proposes assigning high-demand spectrum to a Wireless Open Access Network.  Some stakeholders, including state-owned telecommunications firm Telkom, agree with the general approach.  Others, including the major private sector mobile carriers, feel the interventions would curb investment while doing little to facilitate digital access and inclusion.  In November 2017, DTPS published a draft Electronic Communications Amendment Bill that would implement the ICT White Paper, but the Minister of Communications withdrew the bill in February 2019. Private industry and civil society had criticized the reach of the bill. The Minister stated that the DCDT would consult with relevant stakeholders to re-draft the bill before submitting it to Parliament.

Privatization Program

Although in 2015 and 2016 senior government leaders discussed allowing private-sector investment into some of the more than 700 SOEs and a recently released report of a presidential review commission on SOE that called for rationalization of SOEs, the government has not taken any concrete action to enable this. The CEO of SAA has stated that a fund-raising plan to sell a stake in SAA to an equity partner will be shelved until the airline can shore up its balance sheet. He announced the restructuring of the national carrier into three segments: international, regional, and domestic, but he has not articulated how that would occur in practice. SAA is currently in business rescue.

Other candidates for unbundling of SOEs / privatization are ESKOM and defense contractor Denel.

Tanzania

7. State-Owned Enterprises

Public enterprises do not compete under the same terms and conditions as private enterprises because they have access to government subsidies and other benefits. SOEs are active in the power, communications, rail, telecommunications, insurance, aviation, and port sectors. SOEs generally report to ministries and are led by a board. Typically, a presidential appointee chairs the board, which usually includes private sector representatives. SOEs are not subjected to hard budget constraints. SOEs do not discriminate against or unfairly burden foreigners, though they do have access to sovereign credit guarantees.

As of June 2019, the GoT’s Treasury Registrar reported shares and interests in 266 public parastatals, companies and statutory corporations. (See  http://www.tro.go.tz/index.php/en/latest-news/382-treasury-registrar-sets-record-with-552pc-increase-in-annual-dividend )

Relevant ministry officials usually appoint SOEs’ board of directors to serve preset terms under what is intended to be a competitive process. As in a private company, senior management report to the board of directors.

Privatization Program

The government retains a strong presence in energy, mining, telecommunication services, and transportation. The government is increasingly empowering the state-owned Tanzania Telecommunications Corporation Limited (TTCL) with the objective of safeguarding the national security, promoting socio-economic development, and managing strategic communications infrastructure. The government also acquired 51 percent of Airtel Telecommunication Company Limited and became the majority shareholder. In the past, the GoT has sought foreign investors to manage formerly state-run companies in public-private partnerships, but successful privatizations have been rare. Though there have been attempts to privatize certain companies, the process is not always clear and transparent.

Tunisia

7. State-Owned Enterprises

State-owned enterprises (SOEs) are still prominent throughout the economy.  Many compete with the private sector, in industries such as telecommunications, banking, and insurance, while others hold monopolies in sectors considered sensitive by the government, such as railroad transportation, water and electricity distribution, and port logistics.  Importation of basic food staples and strategic items such as cereals, rice, sugar, and edible oil also remains under SOE control.

The GOT appoints senior management officials to SOEs, who report directly to the ministries responsible for the companies’ sector of operation.  SOE boards of directors include representatives from various ministries and personnel from the company itself.  Similar to private companies, the law requires SOEs to publish independently audited annual reports, regardless of whether corporate capital is publicly traded on the stock market.

The GOT encourages SOEs to adhere to OECD Guidelines on Corporate Governance, but adherence is not enforced.  Investment banks and credit agencies tend to associate SOEs with the government and consider them as having the same risk profile for lending purposes.

Privatization Program

The GOT allows foreign participation in its privatization program.  A significant share of Tunisia’s FDI in recent years has come from the privatization of state-owned or state-controlled enterprises.  Privatization has occurred in many sectors, such as telecommunications, banking, insurance, manufacturing, and fuel distribution, among others.

In 2011, the GOT confiscated the assets of the former regime.  The list of assets involved every major economic sector.  According to the Commission to Investigate Corruption and Malfeasance, a court order is required to determine the ultimate handling of frozen assets.

Because court actions frequently take years –and with the government facing immediate budgetary needs – the GOT allowed privatization bids for shares in Ooredoo (a foreign telecommunications company of which 30 percent of shares were confiscated from the previous regime), Ennakl (car distribution), Carthage Cement (cement), City Cars (car distribution), and Banque de Tunisie and Zitouna Bank (banking).  The government is expected to sell some of its stakes in state-owned banks; however, no clear plan has been adopted or communicated so far due to fierce opposition by labor unions.

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