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April 29, 2021
By: Norvisi Eyiram Mawunyegah
The Government of Ghana and the shareholders ofAirtelTigo, Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings, MIC Africa B.V, have negotiated and signed an agreement to transfer the shares of the Company to the Ghana Government. The agreement was contracted following the announcement of the Company’s departure from the Ghanaian market, last year. A statement signed by Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications and Digitalization, said the 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 utilized by the government, “she said.
The Minister said Government would 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.
“The Minister for Communications and Digitalization, 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,” it said.
The statement said in October 2020, Airtel and Millicom, announced that they were exiting the Ghanaian market and the agreement concluded 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 sub region and this acquisition is a step in the right direction”, the Minister said in the statement.
It said Bharti Airtel in 2017, agreed to merge with Millicom’s Tigo in Ghana, to become the country’s second-largest mobile operator, AirtelTigo.
The statement said the National Communications Authority approved the merger for the two companies to combine their operations.
It said AirtelTigo served around a 5.1million subscribers and offered employment opportunities to almost 10,000 people, both directly and indirectly.
The statement said Celtel International, a subsidiary of Zain (formerly named the MTC Group) in 2007, acquired 75% of Western Tele systems Ltd (Westel) from the Government of Ghana for $120 million.
It said the Government of Ghana remained a shareholder in Westel with a 25% holding through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, until the above merger.
The statement said 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.
It said Millicom Ghana Limited, was the first mobile telecommunications company to operate in the country operating under the brand name, Mobitel, from where it transformed to become Tigo.