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Vodafone sells out of Ghana

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Vodafone is officially exiting the Ghanaian market and has completed the sale of its 70% shareholding in Vodafone Ghana to Telecel Group for an undisclosed sum.

"The sale of Vodafone Ghana to Telecel Group is a further step in simplifying Vodafone's African portfolio. Since entering the market in 2008, Vodafone has helped to develop Ghana's critical network infrastructure supporting customers, businesses and communities," Vodafone CEO Margherita Della Valle said in a statement about the sale.

The deal has been on the cards since August 2022 but has seen a few bumps in the road with the Ghanaian regulator initially rejecting the proposed deal.

However, the sale received regulatory approval from the National Communications Authority (NCA) of Ghana in January 2023. It also has the blessing of the Government of Ghana which will retain its 30% shareholding in Vodafone Ghana's local holding company Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited (GTCL).

Telecel is a global telecommunications company that operates in more than 30 countries, many of which are in Africa. It has four major lines of business across its subsidiaries Telecel Mobile, Telecel Global Services, Telecel Play and Africa Startup Initiative Program.

Vodafone entered Ghana back in 2008 through a deal where it paid the Ghanaian government, $900 million for 70% of what was then called Ghana Telecom. In 2009 Ghana Telecom rebranded as Vodafone Ghana.

Vodafone is looking to simplify its African portfolio and is exiting the Ghanaian market after 15 years. (Source: Image by wirestock on Freepik.)
Vodafone is looking to simplify its African portfolio and is exiting the Ghanaian market after 15 years. (Source: Image by wirestock on Freepik.)

Vodafone, however, struggled over the years to steal market share from rival MTN, and by the end of 2022 Vodafone was the second biggest mobile operator in the country, according to statistics from Omdia, with about 7.8 million mobile subscribers or only 17.5% market share.

MTN Ghana, remains the most dominant operator with about 29.3 million users or 66% market share. Meanwhile AirtelTigo Ghana was close behind Vodafone with almost 6.2 million mobile subscribers and Glo Mobile had just over 1 million users at the end of last year.

African consolidation

In Africa, Vodafone has been steadily consolidating interests under its African subsidiary Vodacom Group.

In April 2020, Vodacom took over the management of Vodafone Ghana but there was no transfer of assets.

The simplification of Vodafone's African footprint also included selling its 55% stake in Vodafone Egypt to Vodacom in a deal worth about US$2.7 billion. The deal was finalized in December 2022.

The Egypt deal involved the issuance of almost 242 million new Vodacom Group shares to Vodafone International which has increased Vodafone Group's shareholding in Vodacom from 60.5% to 65.1%.

In May 2017, Vodafone also transferred an almost 35% stake in Kenya's Safaricom to Vodacom in a deal worth around $2.6 billion.

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*Top image source: Image by ASphotofamily on Freepik.

— Paula Gilbert, Editor, Connecting Africa

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