By George Bevir
Ghanaian parliament votes in favour of $900m deal for 70% stake.
Vodafone’s US$900 million acquisition of a 70% stake in Ghana Telecom has been given the go-ahead by the Ghanaian parliament.
The deal between Ghana’s third largest mobile operator and Vodafone was initially agreed in July, but it was delayed after the country’s opposition party, National Democratic Congress, claimed it would go against national interests.
The deal, which was approved by 124 votes to 74, gives Vodafone a controlling stake in the company, with the government of Ghana retaining a 30% stake in the business.
Ghana Telecom, which employs 4,000 people, has 1.4 million mobile customers, giving it a market share of approximately 17%. It also has 379,000 fixed and 15,000 broadband lines.
According to reports, the company is currently unprofitable and running debts in the region of $400 million.
When the deal was brokered, then CEO of Vodafone, Arun Sarin, described Ghana as ‘one of the most attractive markets in Africa’, with mobile subscribers growing at 55% per annum and mobile penetration at only 35%.
Vodafone has said that it plans to invest $500m to increase network coverage in the country and expand Ghana Telecom’s share of the mobile market to 25%.
The arrangement with Ghana Telecom follows Vodafone’s offer to take an additional 12.5% share of Vodacom, which it jointly owns with South African company Telkom.
Through Vodacom and other affiliates, Vodafone already has a presence in South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo and on the east of the continent in Tanzania, Lesotho, Kenya and Mozambique.