We were all shell-shocked when news about a possible merger between Airtel Ghana and Tigo Ghana hit the airwaves earlier this year; well, not all of us. Some of us saw this coming or at least caught a hint of a possibility of this merger. It made perfect sense. Two struggling and mediocre telco’s merging to push both telco’s to the number 2 spot. Makes perfect sense!!
As usual, the press jumped on this news and released all sorts of information and press releases, both officially and unofficially. Representatives from Tigo and Airtel finally confirmed the rumor sometime this year, acknowledging that talks had been in the works since last year and mergers this huge take a long while to complete, hence this may not be a reality till later this year or sometime next year.
On further research, this is a merger between Airtel and Millicom International which is a parent body of Tigo in Ghana. Having been in the rumor mill for awhile, questions arose, as usual.
What’s the magnitude of this deal? Would staff be laid off? Would customers on either network lose their numbers? Would there need for a re-registration or new sim cards?
These are a few of the questions that emanated from this blockbuster of a news.
But taking a more in-depth look, what does this mean for both telcos? How does this benefit both companies? How are the users affected? How are the regulators going to modify the rules henceforth?
Looking back, there hasn’t been a merger of this magnitude within the telecommunications industry in Ghana. This is big. For both telco’s, this looks like a win. This looks like the opportunity they’ve been waiting for and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Normally, both telco’s would individually find themselves in the 4th/5th position in ratings for the best telco’s in the country in addition to a barrage of customer complaints on coverage, infrastructure, data costs, network speed and high call rates. In basic terms, both networks are shit.
But this merger serves them nicely. Not only will this consolidation lead to greater industry stability, it ensures a better quality of service, improved customer offers and increased investment within the sector. It pretty much strengthens ties and is a selfless effort to provide customers with the best services they can possibly find.
It would also be smart to look at this from a customer point of view, after all, they get affected the most from this coming together. Having dealt with mediocre service for too long, this merger better be worth the customer’s while.
One would expect improved service, combined experience and higher speed mobile coverage as some of the perks of this merger. More competitive prices for services should also be introduced to the market from this new conglomerate. In literal terms, both companies need to take the competition to MTN, Vodafone, and GLO. They need to make the customer first and important. There’s also the improvement of SME support and funding, mobile financial services and general enhanced agent networks and platforms. Let’s also hope there are reduced data prices and improved coverage across the country. In plain terms, the customer is the biggest winner in this regard.
There are obviously certain things to expect as a result of this merger. Most definitely a rebrand. Both companies would then need to operate under a new, distinct umbrella, which negotiators from both companies would agree to. The main bulk of the work rests on the regulators, since to a large extent, this is new terrain for the telco industry. They need to figure out a way to make this merger as smooth as possible, so as to retain customer experience.
We’re all excited about this merger; let’s hope it lives up to expectations.