The Government of Ghana has taken over the ownership of the newly merged telecom giants AirtelTigo, after it signed an agreement with Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings B.V and MIC Africa B.V, original owners of the company.
In a statement from the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, she confirmed that negotiations have been concluded to transfer the telecom company’s ownership to the government following the announcement of the company’s departure from the Ghanaian market last year.
The exact reason for AirtelTigo to be in a haste to exit the Ghanaians market is unknown but it has not stopped speculations that the company consider Ghana unprofitable and high-risk for telecoms, following recent draconian policies and interference from the government in their operations.
For instance, shortly before the 2020 general elections, the Akufo Addo administration had virtually arm-twisted the telecom operators to give it access to closely-guarded personal data of their customers. This forced the biggest operator, MTN to go to consider legal action.
In the process, the government went after MTN, saying it was monopolising the market and that its monopoly needed to be broken, this is even though MTN controls barely 45% of the mobile telecom market share, with the remaining three operators splitting the remaining market share.
Meanwhile, in Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful’s statement, she said the agreement between AirtelTigo and the government will result in the company transferring all its customers, assets and agreed liabilities of 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,” the statement read.
“Government will operate this 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.”
The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP) 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.
“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 sub-region and this acquisition is a step in the right direction,” the Minister stated.