Absence of NCA board delays Airtel, Tigo merger

By Sam Edem

The absence of a board of directors for telecoms regulator, the National Communications Authority (NCA), has left the anticipated merger between Airtel and Tigo in the balance.

The merger, made public in February, needs the final seal of approval from the NCA before it comes into effect. Although former Telecoms Chamber CEO, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, has been named chair of the NCA board, the full complement of the board is yet to be announced.

But Mr. Sakyi-Addo told the B&FT that the announcement would be made "soon". Industry sources say the delay is creating uncertainty in the sector, especially among staff of the two telecom companies, who are keen on knowing what would happen to their jobs.

When contacted by the B&FT, officials of the two telcos declined to comment, saying they did not want to make comments that could jeopardize the deal. It was, however, apparent that neither side is enthused about the delay of the regulatory approval.

Meanwhile, CEO of the Ghana Investment Promotion Centre, Yofi Grant, who is upbeat about making the country a prime destination for investment in Africa, said he's "concerned enough to ask about a speedy resolution."

His concern also stems from the fact that MTN's request to go public is being hampered by the absence of a board of directors at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the capital market regulator. Merger talks According to the announcement made earlier this year, per the agreement, Airtel and Millicom, operators of Tigo, would have equal ownership and governance rights in the combined entity.

It is estimated that the combined business would serve nearly 10 million customers, of which 5.6 million are data customers.

The resultant network operator would cover more than 80 percent of Ghana's population with high speed data, providing the widest 3G coverage across the country, and would have revenues close to US$ 300 million, making it one of the largest communications companies in the country.

The combined business is expected to provide customers with a major boost in both rural and urban network coverage, translating into better voice quality, high speed data services and reinforced network stability and resilience.

With the combined fibre footprint and increased number of data centres, enterprise customers - including both large corporations and SMEs' are expected to have access to a diverse portfolio of solutions. Mobile Financial Services will also be enhanced with combined agent networks and platforms, the companies said.

Source: Business and Financial Times