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Ghana govt will temporarily operate AirtelTigo after transfer of ownership

BY: Enoch Darfah Frimpong
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful - Minister of Communication
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful - Minister of Communication

Discussions for the transfer of AirtelTigo shares to the government of Ghana along with all customers, assets and agreed liabilities are in its advanced stages.

The transaction will be concluded by the execution of definitive agreements shortly.

The government of Ghana through this transaction, will temporarily operate the national asset in the best interest of the nation, and ensure the protection of the interests of all employees, customers and stakeholders, and a continuation of the digital transformation in Ghana, a statement issued on the move has said.

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 safe guarded, the statement added.

It is of critical importance that the telecommunications sector remains healthy, dynamic, vibrant, and most importantly, competitive, the statement added.

The board of Bharti Airtel in a statement issued to the Bombay Stock Exchange on Tuesday evening [October 27, 2020] announced that the board has cleared the sale of its Ghana joint venture – Airtel Tigo - to the Ghana government.

It is taking an impairment charge of about $25million for the transaction.

“The parties are in advance stages of discussions for conclusion of the commercial agreement for the transfer of AirtelTigo on a going concern basis to the government of Ghana,” Airtel said in the statement to the Bombay Stock Exchange in India.

The proposed deal would result in the government of Ghana acquiring 100% shares of Airtel Ghana Limited, also known as AirtelTigo, along with all its customers, assets and agreed liabilities.

“Accordingly, Airtel is voluntarily taking an impairment charge of Rs 1,841 million (Rs 184 crore),” the statement added.

AirtelTigo is a joint venture between 'Airtel' and 'Millicom' wherein Airtel holds a non-controlling 49.95% share in AirtelTigo.

Read also: Govt to buy Airtel Tigo as Bharti Airtel exits

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 (NCA).

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 $120 million in 2007.

Celtel was subsequently acquired by the Zain Group which also sold all its African Assets to Bharti Airtel in 2010.

The government of Ghana remained a shareholder in Airtel Ghana with a 25 percent 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 the take over by Celtel, the second national operator in Ghana and was licensed 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.

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