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Third-time-lucky for MTN mobiles in Ghana

It took US$5.526 million and a major merger, but MTN's acquisition of Scancom Ghana now means that it has established a mobile presence in Ghana - at the third attempt.

MTN is the largest telecom provider in Africa , but had to merge with Investcom, the parent of Scancom Ghana , in turn the owner of Areeba ( Ghana's largest mobile provider) to achieve its ambition.

Of course, the deal is not confined to MTN's aspirations for Ghana . Through their cooperation, both Investcom and MTN will, they hope, be operating on the big scale in the Middle East and Africa . More specifically, each partner will be able to feed off the existing expertise and technological infrastructure the other partner has in place. Statistics released at the end of 2005 show that Investcom operates in ten MENA countries; almost five million subscribers were using its services in Benin , Cyprus , Ghana , Guinea Bissau, Liberia, Sudan , Syria and Yemen . MTN's African operations run to another 11 countries - industry sources indicate there is no duplication within national borders.

Investcom is listed on the Stock Exchanges of both London and Dubai . Financial commentators believe that the price paid for the whole of Investcom is fair and far-sighted, primarily as MTN will earn from Investcom's experience of the Middle East .

MTN's Andrew Johnson, General Manager, Network Technology Operations, gave indications at a conference in South Africa last year that MTN had never given up on Ghana despite the two failed attempts in the wake of MTN's arrival on the Africa market in 1997.

His company has acquired an Areeba which has been mushrooming throughout Ghana . Again borrowing 2005 figures, Areeba had 955,000 subscribers, more than double the 462,000 state-owned telco Ghana Telecom. Initial provider in Ghana Mobitel had 355,000 subscribers, Kasapa, featured in Developing Telecoms under 'Kasapa expands in Ghana' had 60,000.

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