Home Opinion Featured Articles The dishonorable check out from Glo to becoming Gloom

The dishonorable check out from Glo to becoming Gloom

Elephant in the room: From Glo to Gloom to Dishonourable checkout

Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr Is The Chairman And Ceo Of Glo
Dr Mike Adenuga Jnr Is The Chairman And Ceo Of Glo

There is no easy way to start a write up like this one, particularly when the subject of the piece started so well, but ended in such crass dishonour. 

But let’s just begin from somewhere.

The Buzz

At least two years before Nigerian telecom giant, Globacom (Glo) launched its network in Ghana, it made its presence strongly felt in the country through sponsoring the stuff Ghanaians are passionate about – football and entertainment. Glo was all over our football. They also signed on a “thousand and one” Ghanaian celebrities as brand ambassadors and influencers long before they even rolled out their network and made their first cedi.

No telecom company in Ghana could boast of 1.5 million SIM cards pre-ordered ahead of the network launch but Glo. The company rolled out enough telecom towers to cover a historic 90% of the country before the network launch. They promised Ghanaians everything like never before – name them – network quality, internet speed, affordability, entertainment, juicy offers and more, like never before; and Ghanaians bought into the promise and pre-ordered SIM cards.

At their launch in 2012, Glo had already eaten into the market share of the legacy telcos, with a 7.5% entry market share. That was historic, and it put the shivers down the spine of the existing players, as Glo showed signs of even digging in deeper with their much better internet speeds on the back of their exclusive Glo One submarine cable landing on the shores of Ghana. The numerous positive testimonies about internet speeds on Glo was enough to give them the upper hand in terms of which network businesses were more likely to choose as a service provider.

The George Andah Factor

One of the smartest moves Glo made was to have selected a leading and well-known marketing guru in Ghana as its inaugural Head of Business (country CEO), Nenyi George Kwadwo Andah, who was once the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) of market leader MTN Ghana. George’s name was synonymous with the popularity of MTN in Ghana. He was largely credited for branding everything in Ghana Yellow; things like football, music, comedy, big buildings, houses, the highways, shops, kiosks, even table-top stores and more. Indeed, under George, MTN led the way in that department and others followed.

So, based on the big promises Glo made to Ghanaians and the buzz it created ahead of its launch, it was certain that Glo was going to be in the faces of Ghanaians and paint Ghana lemon green with George in the driving seat. The other telcos, including George’s own former employer and market leader, MTN were going to have a tough customer called Glo on their hands. In my chats with one MTN CEO at the time, he alluded to George’s ability to cause a stir in the market, but he also said they were ready to give him a “show down”.

Extreme Controls from Nigeria

Fast forward, less than two years into Glo’s entry into the market, George Andah, the man widely seen as the one with the magic wand to make Glo the telecom brand of choice in Ghana, jumped ship. He was first moved to Nigeria as Head of Marketing for West Africa, then sooner than later he was gone. The company did not assign any reasons for his leaving and George did not say anything either. But yours truly gathered that extreme controls from the centre (Nigeria) made it difficult for George and his Ghana team to have a free hand to run the Ghana operation creatively. If you know how George works, you would know that he is not a man who will be used as a ceremony figure head while someone else calls the shots remotely. We must also admit that George went into politics after Glo, so that could also be a possible reason why he left that soon.

George left and was replaced with another Ghanaian who was then based in Nigeria – Patrick Awotwi. There was nothing eventful about Awotwi’s stay in Ghana, except for more of the same things – more signing of brand ambassadors and average service quality. Sooner than later, it became even clearer why George left. One of the brand Ambassadors, legendary Ghanaian musician, Gyedu Blay Ambulley granted an interview and revealed that he was hired as a brand Ambassador directly from Nigeria – and that he was invited by the owner and Chairman of Glo himself, Chief Dr. Mike Adenuga Junior and was offered the Ambassadorial role directly by him.

Following that revelation by Gyedu Blay Ambulley it became even clear, through subsequent confessions by Glo workers, that everything else in Ghana is decided in Nigeria on daily basis. In fact, there were times when even people were sent from Nigeria to come fix network challenges in Ghana. It was as if the Ghana team were only hear for being here sake, but practically all decisions were taken in Nigeria.

Indeed, one other reason that confirms that Glo likes to control everything from the centre was the fact that, even at press conferences, they would often distribute specific questions to selected people and the MC would specifically mention the names of those people one after the other to ask their “predetermined” questions. That is some real smooth and extreme move to control the narrative. What that did was that it rendered the folks in Ghana toothless bulldogs. They can’t say anything to the media or represent Glo in anything of significance. The Ghanaian staff were made to feel they were not part of the Glo family. That was cold, and is probably the biggest bane of Glo Ghana and most likely the one thing that saw it coming to its knees really fast after the pre-launch buzz.

It got so bad that even some Ghanaians began to ask “so all the buzz about Glo – is that it”?!

Random changes of Ghana CEOs

As a result of the extreme controls from Nigeria, no Ghana Head of Business (CEO) seem to get it right, so in the space of about four years, Glo changed Ghana CEOs at least five times. From George Andah to Patrick Awotwi, to John Vasikaran, back to Patrick Awotwi, to Hakeem Kazeem then Augustine Mamoru. Much later, Glo changed country CEO again to one Roland Odolokor in 2017. There may have been more changes in-between. But none of them could get it right. In fact, successively, Glo kept losing market share and subscriber base under all these CEOs. And the truth is that Nigeria was in charge and these CEOs were just there in name.

For instance, when Kazeem came in, he boasted of his salesman prowess and promised to lift Glo to the number two spot in 24 months. He was here for 30 months and Glo lost market share and subscriber base from 1.6 million to about 1.4 million over that period. After him, Augustine Mamoru, who inherited him, sent Glo’s market share and subscriber base tumbling down. He lost at least 540,000 subscribers in just six months before he was removed. Telecoms is a game of numbers, and as far as that went, nothing seemed to work for Glo, no matter how many times they changed Ghana CEOs.

Decommissioning of towers, the coverage triangle

Sooner than later, Glo began to realize that the thousands of telecom towers they mounted across the country, was a complete waste of resources, as the usage of their network in a lot of the areas they mounted towers was painfully insignificant. As a result, Glo decommissioned a lot of their towers and registered a huge number of dark spots across the country. The company resorted to what it called a coverage triangle with only towers in Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi functioning. Everywhere else had zero Glo coverage. That was definitely the beginning of the end for Glo. It was so bad that at some point, some decommissioned Glo towers began to collapse on people’s properties.

With all these challenges and a clear strategy to cut back on investment in Ghana, Glo refused to renew its 2G license when it expired in 2019. That should probably have indicated to the workers that they were working for a dying company. Indeed, some saw the signs and jumped ship, others stayed on. In fact one other reason people jumped ship was that for all the years Glo was here, every single Ghanaian worker I know said they never had salary adjustments even once for all the years they worked there. Even some of the celebrity brand Ambassadors started complaining about regretting the ambassadorial deals.

Fast forward to 2022, Glo made the most shocking announcement clothed in dishonesty. They said all of the remaining 800,000 plus customers will be migrated to AirtelTigo, another struggling telco, as part of government’s national roaming strategy.

MTN Ghana and Vodafone have a national roaming arrangement, none of them had to migrate customers to the other’s network for that. In fact, there are loads of national roaming arrangements in the telecom industry across the world. There is none, not a single one where one network had to completely migrate its customers to another’s network such that its customers would now have to buy airtime from the new network. The only times that happens is when two networks are merging or one is simply folding up. Glo clearly wasn’t honest to workers and customers on that occasion. In fact, they told the same cock and bull story to the National Labour Commission (NLC) in response to an issue the workers took to the NLC.

Since Glo was not bold enough to tell the truth, we will tell it for them.

The truth is that, according to the National Communications Authority (NCA), Glo’s 3G license will expire at the end of this month (January 2024) and they have no plans of renewing their license because they are completely folding up and checking out of the Ghana market for good. That is the simple truth Glo could not tell, because it will give the workers enough time to activate a redundancy package negotiation, which Glo wanted to avoid at all cost.

The Machiavellian move

Speaking of redundancy package, when it became clear in April 2022, that Glo was folding up, some 79 Ghanaian workers went to the NLC and asked for their intervention in the negotiation of their redundancy packages, since Glo did not allow them to belong to any trades unions. In the process the workers managed to get one trades union to represent them in the expected negotiation.

But Glo managed to keep on with their strategy of deception and convinced the NLC that the workers’ demand for redundancy packages negotiation was premature since they were still enjoying their monthly salaries even though Glo was in the process of migrating customers to AirtelTigo. The deception on that occasion was a promise Glo made to NLC that when the time of redundancy comes they were going to follow the provisions of the Labour Law of 2003, Act 651. Section 65(4) of that Act clearly mandates the employer (Glo) and the employees to negotiate the redundancy package. By law, none of the parties has the right to unilaterally decide what the package should be.

Glo had no intentions of obeying the laws of Ghana, and what they did is nothing short of a draconian, Machiavellian, unethical and indeed illegal move as far as the issue of workers’ redundancy packages goes.

Fast forward, after Glo had given NLC its assurance of following the law in April 2023, it stopped paying workers’ monthly salaries in July 2023 without any official communication. The workers reported the matter to NLC but the regulator’s position was that it had already ruled on the matter based on Glo’s earlier response. The NLC then asked the workers to either file a fresh complaint or go to court. Meanwhile, up till September 2023, there was a workers’ attendance record book to show the workers were still reporting to the office under the supervision of the HR Manager called Kunle Olaboye.

Take, swear or lose it all

Whiles the workers were gearing up to get the redundancy package negotiated, Glo hid behind two private recruitment agencies called XL Management and Ivory Crest, and started calling individuals and offering them some unilaterally computed packages in exchange for signing a document to exonerate Glo from all liabilities and even swearing not to file any legal suits against the company. Because the workers had been denied salaries and starved for at least six months, majority of them went in a signed that bogus document and took the money. After all, Glo is leaving the country anyway.

From the figures we have seen so far, the packages the workers were given were worse than an insult, given the fact that Glo never increased workers’ salaries for all the years they were here, and they have chosen to use some voodoo computation to determine this thing they call severance packages for the workers.

What is even worse is that some of the workers alleged that when they were called, the officials of the Glo agencies threatened that if they don’t come for the packages, Glo will be completely out of the country by close of this month and they will lose their packages completely. How that kind of behaviour is legal and or moral, is for NLC and Ghana government to judge. The way we allow multinationals to treat our people with disrespect is really sad.

This is why the headline for this write up is apt. Glo checked in here with a buzz but has chosen to check out in such crass dishonour. In fact, I am even beginning to believe the allegations that Glo probably did not even win the license that go them into Ghana in the first place. So, the rightful winner may have cursed them and that is why they have ended the way they ended.

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