Following Bharti Airtel’s recently announcement that it will leave the Ghanaian market, local press reports suggest that the completion of the sale of the former AirtelTigo – Airtel's mobile communications business in Ghana – is imminent.
In fact the government of Ghana and AirtelTigo are said to have begun the final stages of discussions concerning the transfer of AirtelTigo shares to the government along with all its customers, assets and agreed liabilities.
These are by no means negligible. AirtelTigo reported a customer base of 4.7 million and EBITDA of around $2.4 million in its fourth quarter ending in March this year. Ghana press reports add that AirtelTigo offers direct and indirect employment opportunities to almost 10,000 people, one reason, presumably, for government plans to temporarily operate this business ‘in the best interest of the nation’.
Another likely reason is that a lot of other industries rely on the telecommunications sector. Thus, as local news outlets suggest, the government of Ghana has entered into this agreement with the purpose of protecting the jobs of thousands of Ghanaians.
It’s only a few years since Bharti Airtel merged with Millicom’s Tigo in Ghana to become, in 2017, the country’s second largest mobile operator. Therefore the news, which we announced last week, that Bharti Airtel will exit the Ghanaian telecoms market may have been something of a surprise, especially given that Ghana has been a fairly successful market for the company.
However, the exit has been explained, in part at least, by an Airtel decision to focus on a number of specific markets on the continent.