While creaking under extreme debt, the government’s decision to pump US$1 billion into the acquisition of Airtel Ghana has been described as “fishy” and stinking of a potential scandal that the Akufo Addo administration has become accustomed to.
A Member of Parliament (MP) on the Communications Committee of the august house, Ras Mubarak thinks there may be more than meets the eye with that curious acquisition that sets a broke government back another US$ 1 billion or GHC 5.8 billion.
The Akufo Addo administration on Wednesday, October 28, 2020, announced that it was buying off 100% of Airtel Ghana owned by Indian Bharti-Airtel after the mobile telecom operator has operated in Ghana for close to two decades.
Bharti Airtel claims it was folding up its operations in Ghana to concentrate on its other operations in Africa.
However, speaking to Citi News, Ras Mubarak described the deal as suspicious.
“Why would the government want to use a billion [for such purpose]? If the government has that amount of money to offset the liabilities of AirtelTigo, would it not have been more prudent to use a portion of that to honour its obligations? To have entered into an agreement of this magnitude clearly smacks of something fishy,” Ras Mubarak queried.
“I find it unacceptable that my own government will enter into such an agreement – to use the taxpayers’ money to acquire 100% shares in Airtel. They have not had the courtesy to inform the good people of Ghana what this is all about. I expect nothing but full disclosure of the details of this transaction. If you look at the liabilities of AirtelTigo at the moment it is almost a billion.”
The government said the decision to buy off Airtel’s shares was aimed at protecting jobs and safeguarding the interest of stakeholders of AirtelTigo which has some 5.1 million customers.
“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,” government communication stated.
The argument of protecting jobs by the Akufo Addo administration may be difficult to reconcile with the recent collapsing of over 400 banks and financial institutions, leading to tens of thousands of job losses and locked up funds of some hundreds of thousands of customers.