The government of Ghana has confirmed reports that it is at an advanced stage in discussions with Bharti Airtel and Tigo for the transfer of AirtelTigo shares to government – along with all customers, assets and agreed liabilities.
The transaction, a statement from the Communications Ministry said, will shortly be concluded by the execution of definitive agreements.
“The government of Ghana through this transaction will temporarily operate this national asset in the best interests of the nation, and ensure protection for the interests of all employees, customers and stakeholders, and a continuation of the digital transformation in Ghana.
“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,” the statement added.
Bharti Airtel in 2017 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 around 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$120million in 2007. Celtel was subsequently acquired by the Zain Group, which later 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.
Westel was at the time of takeover by Celtel the second national operator in Ghana, and was licenced to provide fixed and mobile (GSM) telecommunications services. Millicom Ghana Limited was the first mobile telecommunications company to operate in the country under the brand name Mobitel before rebranding to become Tigo.