One of the issues that has undermined the country’s development over the several decades has been the inability of successive governments to nurture and sustain state-owned companies.
After independence, the country was bustling with state-owned companies and industries, creating employment for the youth and producing most of the things the country needs locally.
Following the formation of the National Divestiture Implementation Committee, most of the country’s strategic assets were sold to private individuals and foreign investors.
Poor governance and management practices, pilfering, lack of investment and re-injection of capital in such national companies, liberalisation of the economy, among others, led to the collapse of some of the state industries.
Those, which were not sold, were left to rot and deteriorate, making it unattractive to private investors and impossible to resuscitate.
What used to be Ghana’s Industrial hubs have been turned into a “Church hub.” The premises of the local industries in the Industrial hubs have been sold to individuals, who consider it a good business perhaps to establish a church. The premises of some of the defunct companies have been turned into warehouses for imported products.
Thus, it is refreshing news to most Ghanaians when it was announced that government has taken over telecommunication giant, AirtelTigo.
As published on page 15 of the Saturday, April 17, 2021, issue of the Ghanaian Times, the government has acquired a 100 per cent stake in the company.
This follows the decision of the owners of AirtelTigo, Bharti Airtel Ghana Holdings B.V and Mic Africa B.V, to exit the Ghanaian market, as part of their consolidation strategy.
The good news is the state did not expend much to acquire such a strategic national asset. As stated by the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, it cost the government one dollar to take over the company.
The Ghanaian Times applauds the government for the decision to take over the company. Until the takeover, the state did not have any major footprint in the telecommunication sector after Ghana Telecom now Vodafone and Airtel then Westel were sold. It is encouraging that the state has taken possession of a national asset it sold about a decade ago.
We are particularly excited because the government has taken a giant step to re-possess an important national asset it disposed of about 10 years ago. And what makes it interesting is that the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation under whose supervision Airtel then Western Communications was sold coincidentally is the Minister-in-charge at a time that Ghana has taken over the same company.
The collapse of AirtelTigo would have proven a dire consequence for the Ghanaian economy considering the number of people the company employed, ancillary companies depending on the company and its tax contribution to the state.
A lot of the citizens and businesses have subscribed to the services of the company to meet their communication needs and also interact with their customers and clients.
We urge the government to quickly put in efficient management team to manage the company and turn it around.
The takeover of the company presents the government the opportunity to transform the company into a giant and strategic national telecommunication company to compete with other players in the telecommunication market in Ghana.
The government must do all that it can to inject the necessary capital and invest massively in the company to make it profitable and not a liability to the state.
This would require that the right corporate governance and management practices are put in place to forestall the challenges that led to the collapse of some local industries.
AirtelTigo cannot fail and the lessons of Vodafone and other collapsed former state-owned companies are there to guide us.