Member of Parliament for Ningo Prampram Samuel Nartey George has said the Communications Committee of Parliament will be inviting the Minister of Communications to answer some questions relating to the AirtelTigo agreement with the government of Ghana over the transfer of ownership of the company.
Sam George who is Deputy ranking member on the committee told Nana Akua Aborampah Mensah on the Hot Edition on 3FM Friday April 16 the deal raises questions about the condition of workers and others issues which makes it prudent for the sector minister to give explanations to the committee.
The Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has assured that the interest of workers, customers, contractors, suppliers, stakeholders will be protected after the Government of Ghana and mother companies of AirtelTigo, Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings B.V. and MIC Africa B.V signed an agreement to transfer the shares to the Ghana Government.
Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful 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.
“We consider this a positive step as it adds to the growing portfolio of digital infrastructure assets being utilised by the government,” a government statement said.
“Government will operate this national asset in the best interest of the nation, the company, telecommunications industry, and ensure the protection of the interests of all employees, customers, contractors, suppliers, stakeholders and sustain the digital transformation of Ghana.”
In October 2020, Airtel and Millicom announced that they were exiting the Ghanaian market and this agreement concludes the extensive negotiations between the parties to ensure a seamless transition and continued operation of AirtelTigo thereafter.
“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 subregion and this acquisition is a step in the right direction,” the government said in a statement.
But Sam George said further explanations are needed on this agreement.
“We are going to be inviting the Minister to the committee to throw more lights on the details of this deal to the parliamentary select committee because this is going to be at cost to the Ghanaian tax payer.
“We need to be sure, guided by the history of Government of Ghana in the telecom space, don’t forget what you know as Vodafone today used to be Ghana telecom and it used to be owned by government and government had failed severally to manage that asset well leading us to where we have gotten to today,” he said.
He added “AirtelTigo, government used to have shares in it. As recently as two years ago AitelTigo told us that government had failed to pay its part of moneys that were needed for capital expansions.
“…So now the government is taking over the whole assets, it is going to be interesting for us to see how we can hold government to account on the requisite level of investment that is needed to keep telco highly competitive .
“The other angle will be the conditions of the Ghanaians workers in there. That for me, is the most primary issue . As recently as 72 hours ago there was agitation over bonuses and salary increment for three years the workers there had not seen any salary increment.
“My understanding is that before this signing was done some indications of approval was given by the board, to be taken care of. We will want to see the implementation of that by government because government takes over assets and liability, we will also want to see what happens to staff strength, are there going to be retrenchment? Are there going to be layoffs , we need to be minded by all of these.”