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Government to acquire AirtelTigo shares to protect thousands of jobs

The move will also ensure that the telecommunications sector in Ghana remains healthy, dynamic, vibrant and competitive

The government’s decision to acquire additional shares in AirtelTigo, following the exit of Bharti Airtel from Ghana, is expected to safeguard thousands of jobs locally, an official statement says.

The move is also intended to ensure that the Ghanaian telecommunications sector remains healthy, dynamic, vibrant and, most importantly, competitive.

The proposed deal will result in the Government of Ghana acquiring 100% shares in Airtel Ghana Ltd, also known as AirtelTigo, along with its customers, assets and agreed liabilities.

The two parties – the government and Airtel/Tigo – are in the advanced stages of discussion for the transfer of AirtelTigo shares to the Government of Ghana.

“The Government of Ghana, through this transaction, will temporarily operate this national asset in the best interest of the nation, and ensure the protection of the interests of all employees, customers and stakeholders, and a continuation of the digital transformation in Ghana,” a statement issued by Bharti Airtel on Wednesday (28 October 2020) said. 

It added: “Given the multiplier impact the telecommunications sector has on the economy and various related industries, the Government of Ghana has entered into this agreement to ensure that thousands of Ghanaian jobs are safeguarded.

“It is of critical importance that the telecommunications sector remains healthy, dynamic, vibrant and, most importantly, competitive.” 

Background

In 2017 Bharti Airtel merged with Millicom’s Tigo in Ghana to become the country’s second-largest mobile operator, AirtelTigo, with the approval of the National Communications Authority.

AirtelTigo serves roughly 5.1 million subscribers and offers direct and indirect employment opportunities to almost 10,000 people.

Celtel International acquired 75% of Western Telesystems Ltd (Westel) from the Government of Ghana for US$120 million in 2007. Celtel was subsequently acquired by the Zain Group, which also sold all its African assets to Bharti Airtel in 2010.

The Government of Ghana remained a shareholder in Airtel Ghana with a 25% holding through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation until the AirtelTigo merger, and retained an option to acquire additional shares after the merger.

At the time of the takeover by Celtel, Westel was the second national operator in Ghana and was licensed to provide fixed and mobile (GSM) telecommunications services.

Millicom Ghana Ltd was the first mobile telecommunications company to set up in the country, operating under the brand name Mobitel before rebranding to become Tigo.

Fred Dzakpata

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