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Gov’t acquisition of AirtelTigo laudable – George Andah

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A former Deputy Minister for Communications, George Andah, has commended government’s move to take over AirtelTigo.

Speaking in an interview on Citi TV, Mr Andah gave reasons why the move was a step in the right direction.

“I think there’s no doubt that the Minister for Communications and Digitalization and the government took the right decision. And the government takeover of AirtelTigo was done in a very smooth way. I believe that the industry still has significant opportunity, depending on proper technological support, proper management direction, an enabling regulatory framework supported by good policies from the government to drive growth areas, the mobile financial services sector or the financial services sector,” he assessed.

When questioned on whether the government had learnt any lessons from non-successful takeovers of companies in previous years, he expressed his confidence in the success of this takeover.

“There are a lot of positive stories to show that it is not a rule that once government touches an organisation, that organisation runs down. I think it’s a matter of putting in place the right environment and making sure that you have the right leadership there.”

Signing

The government of Ghana and the parent companies of AirtelTigo, Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings B.V., MIC Africa B.V signed the transfer after they concluded negotiations to transfer the shares of the company to the Ghana government.

This followed the announcement of the company’s departure from the Ghanaian market in 2020.

The Minister of Communications and  Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful made this known in a press statement issued Friday, April 16, 2021.

This agreement transferred all customers, assets and agreed liabilities of AirtelTigo to the government of Ghana.

“We consider this a positive step as it adds to the growing portfolio of digital infrastructure assets being utilised by the government,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated.

She explained the government will operate the national asset in the best interest of the nation, the company, telecommunications industry, and ensure the protection of the interests of all employees, customers, contractors, suppliers, stakeholders and sustain the digital transformation of Ghana.

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful signed on behalf of the government of Ghana, while Ms. Jatina Catharina Uneken-van de Vreede, Mr. Martin P Frechette, Mr. Timothy Pennington, Mr. Eric Nana Nipah and Mr. Vish Ashiagbor signed on behalf of the seller entities.

In October 2020, Airtel and Millicom announced that they were exiting the Ghanaian market and this agreement concludes the extensive negotiations between the parties to ensure a seamless transition and continued operation of AirtelTigo thereafter.

“The telecommunications sector is of strategic importance to the government and it is critical the sector remains healthy, dynamic, vibrant and most importantly, competitive. We are determined to make Ghana the digital hub of the subregion and this acquisition is a step in the right direction”.

Merger

Bharti Airtel in 2017 agreed to merge with Millicom’s Tigo in Ghana to become the country’s second largest mobile operator, AirtelTigo.

The National Communications Authority (NCA) granted approval for the merger for the two companies to combine their operations.

AirtelTigo serves around 5.1million subscribers and offers employment opportunities to almost 10,000 people, both directly and indirectly.

Celtel International, a subsidiary of Zain (formerly named the MTC Group) in 2007 acquired 75% of Western Telesystems Ltd (Westel) from the government of Ghana for $120 million.

The government of Ghana remained a shareholder in Westel with a 25% holding through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, until the above merger.
Westel was at the time of the takeover by Celtel the second national operator in Ghana and was licensed to provide fixed and mobile (GSM) telecommunications services.

Millicom Ghana Limited, were the first mobile telecommunications company to operate in the country. It then operated under the brand name Mobitel from where it transformed to become Tigo.

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