Government finally takes full ownership of AirtelTigo

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The Government of Ghana has taken complete ownership of AirtelTigo, following the signing of an agreement in which parent companies Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings B.V. and Millicom International Corporation Africa B.V transferred 100% shares in the company to government.

The agreement was signed after the conclusion of extensive negotiations between the parties, which ends the process for the departure of the Bharti and Millicom from the Ghanaian telecoms market.

Since the two companies announced their departure from Ghana in October last year, government has been in ownership transfer talks with them.

The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, 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.

A statement signed by the Minister, said “This agreement transfers all customers, assets and agreed liabilities of AirtelTigo to the Government of Ghana, and we consider it as a positive step as it adds to the growing portfolio of digital infrastructure assets being utilized by the government.”

She said the Ministry of Communications will operate the transferred asset in the best interest of the country to benefit the company and the telecoms industry, as well as to sustain the digital transformation of Ghana..

The Minister gave an assurance that the interests of all employees, customers, contractors, suppliers and stakeholders will be protected.

The Communications Minister noted that “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.”

Background 

Bharti Airtel in 2017 agreed to merge with Millicom’s Tigo in Ghana to become the country’s second largest mobile operator, AirtelTigo.

The National Communications Authority granted approval for the merger for the two companies to combine their operations.

AirtelTigo serves around 5.1million subscribers and offers employment opportunities to almost 10,000 people, both directly and indirectly.

Celtel International, a subsidiary of Zain (formerly named the MTC Group) in 2007 acquired 75% of Western Telesystems Ltd (Westel) from the Government of Ghana for $120 million.

The Government of Ghana remained a shareholder in Westel with a 25% holding through the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation, until the above merger.

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.

Millicom Ghana Limited, were the first mobile telecommunications company to operate in the country. It then operated under the brand name Mobitel from where it transformed to become Tigo.

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