Airtel-Tigo complete merger…as fate of hundreds of workers hang

The fate of hundreds of workers at communication entity Airtel-Tigo is hanging in the balance as they begin an audition process to keep their jobs following finalisation of the merger between the two telcos.

Sources close to the merged entity have told the B&FT that in the coming days workers belonging to the two former entities will face an interview panel and justify why they have to be maintained, or whether they are capable of performing a bigger task in the new entity.

Currently, there are at least three types of workers who are likely to be affected. There are those who are permanent staff, those who are under contracts, and then those who are contracted under third party agencies.

Although it is not immediately known as to what fate will befall workers unable to make the grade, a source close to the merged entity stated that it is unlikely all the various workers will get the same redundancy package.

“All those affected will not be treated the same. To start with, they all don’t have the same contractual agreement with their former employers, and this is likely to play a key role in how they are treated in the event they don’t land a role in the new entity,” the source said, pleading anonymity.

Calling the shots

The discussions between the two companies which commenced in March 2017, got the seal of approval of the National Communications Authority earlier this month. Days after the regulator’s approval, the CEO of Airtel Ghana, Lucy Quist, announced that she is stepping down from her role – paving the way for Roshi Motman, CEO of Tigo, to assume the position of CEO of the new entity.

Of the two entities, Tigo clearly brings more to the table in terms of subscriber base – whether data or mobile. Also, Tigo is said to bring to the table its towers as compared to Airtel, which was renting towers from tower companies.

Thus, it is not surprising that Tigo would have a little edge over Airtel regarding how the various leadership roles of the new company are filled. With Ms. Motman in charge, many insiders are predicting that she will have a lot to say in how strategic positions are filled – signalling that some of her trusted lieutenants from Tigo will be given (maintain) key roles.

Airtel-Tigo market share

The merger transaction, which was concluded last week, has changed dynamics in the telecoms landscape – with the new entity becoming the second-biggest operator after MTN, which controls almost half of the voice market (47.54 percent).

According to the July 2017 industry data released by the telecoms regulator, Tigo had voice subscribers of 5,360,443 which is about 14.8 percent of the market share, whereas Airtel’s 4,236,788 makes up 11.4 percent of the market share.

Together, the new entity – based on the July figures – should have a little over 9.7 million voice subscribers (26.2 percent), leaving Vodafone’s 8,773,444 (24 percent) at a close third in the ranking of market shares.

Although the new entity leapfrogs Vodafone to become second biggest telco in Ghana, it is worth noting that Vodafone has an impressive growth rate and still possesses the potential to reclaim the number-two spot.

Between June and July this year, Vodafone recorded more than 140,000 new subscribers, representing a more than 1.46 percent increase in its market share.

On the mobile data market share, however, the new entity clearly trumps Vodafone. The merger will see Airtel-Tigo have a combined market share of more than 5.76 million data subscribers as compared to the 3.64 million users of Vodafone, if figures from the NCA are anything to go by.

Source: Richard Annerquaye Abbey/thebftonline.com/Ghana