PM threatens to buy out local Digicel In Antigua



Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne said his government is prepared to buy out foreign-owned operator Digicel to ensure that state-owned rival Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA) isn’t left behind in the telecommunications market.

“I have already sent a message to the owner of Digicel to tell him that APUA is willing to buy them, so let’s talk, if that is the way we need to resolve this,” said Browne on a radio show, according to the Antigua Observer. He went on to warn that “If one has to go, it will not be APUA so they better understand that,” adding that “we must recognise that the telecoms space is somewhat overcrowded because the market is so small.”

Browne also revealed that the local administration has brought in independent telecommunications analysts to advise it on the matter.

The PM’s comments come after the local units of Digicel and Flow, the two largest mobile network operators in Antigua and Barbuda, managed to block the government from confiscating any of its 850 MHz spectrum allocation following a court action.

According to Browne, the state-owned operator has been placed “at a disadvantage” when it comes to spectrum holdings, while Digicel previously described the government’s spectrum sharing order as anti-competitive and protectionist.

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  1. Does ACT still provides Internet service to anyone in Antigua and Barbuda? I have not heard anything about their service for several years now.

  2. Much ado about nothing. Digicel and its owners have the capacity and the financial backing to carry this matter all the way to the Privy Council if necessary. I maintain that the government’s approach to this is wrong and it should send chills down the spine of existing and future businesses. The government seem to have gotten a windfall of money from somewhere. Buying out majority shares in LIAT, looking to secure local interest in Scotia Bank, looking to buy out Digicel & maybe Flow, look out Sandals and more…….Even Cuba is moving away from the position of the state taking over everything. Not a pleasant business climate I dare say.

  3. Yes aye, man! Just buy them out! We can get free money or interest free loans to pay the purchase price. Failing both of these, the Treasury can use the money tree it has growing outside its building to get the funds to buy Digicel along with LIAT and Scotia Bank and to pay for the new UWI campus. No problem, man! Gaston has the answer. Anybody oppose you or give you trouble, just buy them out!!! Antiguans are happy to foot the bill and pay through the nose because the Worl’ Boss say so!!

  4. And while we are in a buying mood, let us buy out Sandals Resort from Butch Stewart!! He is not in favor right now with the Worl’ Boss so why haven’t we offered to buy him out as yet?

    • Sandals have too many lawsuits pending. People are slowly discovering Sandals “ways” when it comes to paying in ALL gov’t taxes duly owed to the governments.

  5. If buying Digicel or securing more spectrum for APUA means a regular supply of water, them I am all for it. If not, then I couldn’t care less. APUA would do well to have a laser focus on supplying regular, clean water to the public. If they can turn spectrum into water, then I support the move 100%. If not, then all this is just a distraction.

    • AMEN! Gaston is focusing on Scotia Bank and Digicel when Antiguans cannot even get a reliable supply of water in their homes to bath and wash. Let’s get back to focusing on basic needs like water, roads, health care and forget about the other nonsense. Why would we spend any money on buying Digicel when those funds can help so many people locally with water supply, health care, better roads?

      • I guess some of us are lucky not to have a water problem now for almost a year. And healthcare seems to be at its best. Roads are a work in progress so judge it when it is completed. And who said we cannot walk and chew gum. We are not inept like the UPP. We can do many things simultaneously. That is why we are known to be a Can Do Government.

  6. why not put that money that you want to buy Digicel with into APUA …or is it that you want to buy Digicel with your money to try own another thing and take it away from the people.

  7. Man the money that you’re going to spend to “buy out” Digicel, why not put likkle more on that and fix the DAM ROADS IN THIS COUNTRY!!!!

    Mr Browne, I’m not blaming you wholly for this state of the roads in the country, as successive governments have failed miserable to put aside a good portion of money in the budget for road infrastructure, however, I think it’s high time that Antigua and Barbuda stop being left behind in terms of road network development and get with it.

    Proper roads is appealing to visitors who we want to come and drive our economy, and it is also good for our nations and our pockets as we will have less to spend on part replacement on our vehicles. IT could also lead to reduced traffic incidents, and less stress.

    Come on Mr. Browne, lets do it. I know you are fully aware of the state of the nation’s roads for you drive on them. All you have to do is look out your window

  8. While you are buying LIAT,Digicel.Flow,adding UWI.I am going to purchase more lands around the coastal areas of Antigua.Me no want all to go to de white man and de China man and dem.

  9. Go PM go buy them out I am for nationalizing certain essential services.

    This is good for Independence and shows maturity.

    Another profitable asset for the people of Antigua and Barbudans.

  10. Some bloggers are just propagandist….when did the PM say the government is gonna take over Scotia Bank? I believe he said that our local banks should get first dibs….he is not even saying “at a lower cost”….if our local bank are not interested or cannot meet the criteria then resort to the Trinidad Bank or whomever. Now because some ex coworkers of C&W want something to talk about the come on this medium to spread propaganda. The PM is looking out for A&B and for a level playing field when Antigua and Barbuda interest is at stake.

  11. Most ppl on here has got to be UPP supporters are u nar see the bigger picture but time will tell cause all the the PM doing a good job are u till a complain

    • You cannot help them. They are doomed. And will be in the economic and political dustbin of history for many years to come

  12. I am confused about this spectrum matter as 850 is not the only residential spectrum what happened to 700 (12) is it off limits around here

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