The Ghanaian telecoms market has changed. The State is once again a direct actor. This is good news which, however, raises questions from some local elected officials who want to know the real financial value of this comeback.
Ghana’s Minister of Communications and Digital Economy Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (pictured) said the government of Ghana has acquired mobile operator AirtelTigo for the sum of USD 1. The information given by the boss of the telecoms sector, on Monday April 26, on her Facebook account aimed to put an end to the controversy aroused by Sam Nartey Georges, a deputy of the National Democratic Congress (NDC), who attributed to her remarks according to which the State would have spent 25 million USD for the joint venture formed by the telecoms groups Bharti Airtel and Millicom International Cellular (MIC).
“ Some people find it very hard to believe that we can do good business for the government. I signed the AirtelTigo contract. We bought it for just a dollar. Someone, a member of Parliament, said he heard me say that we paid $ 25 million. A blatant lie … a blatant lie. Please ask Sam George where he heard this. […] How much did we pay to acquire the business? 1 dollar, simple ”, hammered Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.
A reaction that prompted the questioning of deputy Ras Mubarak, also of the NDC party. “ Honorable Ursula Owusu, the point is, AirtelTigo has huge debts on its books. If someone sold a business to the government for $ 1, as you say, but the business owes or has a liability of $ 50 million, you obviously couldn’t have bought it for a dollar without keeping liability account. The question is: how much does AirtelTigo need? Are you saying the government bought it at $ 1 per share? What are AirtelTigo’s assets? He asked.
On April 16, the Government of Ghana signed with Bharti Airtel and MIC the agreement to transfer 100% of AirtelTigo which includes all customers, assets and liabilities. For MIC, this signing marked the sale of its last activities in Africa and its official exit from the continent.
By acquiring AirtelTigo, the Ghanaian government is committed to reviving the business by making the appropriate investments and operating it while protecting the interests of customers, employees and other stakeholders. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful also spoke with the company’s employees on April 20 to reassure them about the sustainability of their jobs.