Vodafone Ghana staff are said to be experiencing a mixture of anxiety and confidence about their future in the company following the announcement of the conditional approval of the deal to sell 70% of the business to Telecel Group.
The National Communications Authority (NCA) on Monday announced that it has given conditional approval for Vodafone Group to sell its 70% majority shares to Telecel, while government continues to keep the 30% minority shares.
Initially, the NCA refused to approve of the sale because it said the deal did failed to meet some regulatory requirements. Additionally, the sector Minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful said Telecel did not have the technical and financial muscle to man Vodafone Ghana.
Subsequent to that, both the buyer (Telecel) and seller (Vodafone) have presented further and better particulars to the NCA and the regulator said it now satisfied, hence the approval, with some conditions.
Whereas it is still not clear what the conditions are, some current staff of Vodafone Ghana have been telling Techgh24 on grounds of anonymity that the enormity of the announcement alone has made many employees anxious but they are also confident that the sale is for the better.
“I mean in truth, many employees are a little anxiou, and considering the enormity of the news, it’s understandable. However, I think this is probably a good turn of events,” one worker said.
In explaining why they are confident about the sale, the worker said “Telecel will come with much needed investment at a time when we really need it as a company. It’ll give us the opportunity to upgrade our systems and expand our coverage, especially now that national roaming is greenlit with MTN.”
Another staff member said in terms of job security, assurances are in place to protect staff and there has been no mention of redundancies or layoffs.
But sources from London have told TechGh24 that there have been some discussion about job cuts in Ghana, particularly since Telecel is inheriting the liabilities of Vodafone, which is estimated to be over GHS500 million.
However, the workers are confident that job security is very likely to be one of the key conditions for the approval of the sale so in the short-term – at least over the next two years – they are sure there will no job losses. But in the medium to long-term Telecel might want to achieve a certain level of efficiency through staff leanness.
One worker, who sounded a bit more political in her outlook, noted that the sitting government would like to avoid the AirtelTigo redundancy fiasco, so they would like Telecel to keep all the current workers at post, at least until they are out of power in 2024.
”Maybe job cuts will start from 2025. But that is even speculative,” she added.
The workers however expect to see some changes at the top sooner than 2025.
“It wouldn’t make sense to spend all this money without getting the right leaders to steer the company right,” one worker said. “Maybe within the first 12 months I imagine they’d bring in some of their own.”
But some of the workers are also concerned about the fact that Telecel has no experience in running any operations as big as Vodafone Ghana in any market, while others also think that it puts Ghana at an advantage within the Telecel Group.
“The relative lack of a experience in a big market is definitely a concern but it cuts both ways. They have everything to lose and because Ghana will be their biggest operation to date, it’s likely that we become the headquarters,” one said.
Meanwhile, the staff said there is still a lot of work to be done until the takeover is complete so at the moment, everything continues as usual and nothing changes.
In announcing the approval of the deal, NCA stated that Telecel has not only showed proof of its technical and financial capacity to run the company, but also readiness to expand its 4G footprints and rollout some innovations in the Fintech sector.
Telecel is an international telecommunication company, operating primarily in Africa, founded in 1986 by the late Congolese businessman Miko Rwayitare.
It is reputed for its prowess in providing digital business/enterprise solutions – B2B, B2G and B2P, which has also been the focus of Vodafone Ghana for a while now.
On its newly revamped website – https://telecelgroup.com/ it is now projecting itself as a purely Africa-focused digital and communications service provider, as well as a market disruptor in the areas of fintech and e-commerce. It has also stated that it is expanding its footprints in Africa both organically and via acquisitions.
The company runs a start-up accelerator program called the Africa Start–up Initiative Program (ASIP), which is designed to develop new businesses across the continent by working with start-ups and early-stage companies to define their business strategy and secure funding. With the support of leading pan-African tech accelerator, Startuobootcam AfriTech, the program has since 2021 empowered 21 businesses with a combined valuation of over US$80 million.
It inherits Vodafone Ghana at a time when the latter is the second largest operator in Ghana with about 7.4 million customers and the weak number two in the mobile money market. Vodafone is also the biggest fixed telephony operator in the market.