Timeline: Battle Of The Ghana Telecommunication Companies

Back in 2008, Government of Ghana sold a majority stake of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone International BV, a subsidiary of Vodafone UK, to sell 70% of GT for $900 million.

There was competition but one could say it wasn’t as fierce. Scancom (MTN) had started in the space since 1996. Tigo was already offering services since 1992. The three telecom companies were soon joined Airtel (2010), Expresso and finally Glo (2012)

So the market was a competition between MTN, Tigo, Airtel, Vodafone, Expresso and Glo with Vodafone leading the way in terms of subscribers.

Fast forward and a lot has changed in the Ghana telecommunications landscape.

Battle of The Major Three (Sorry Glo)

In 2019, Ghana officially has four (4) telecom companies in fierce competition: MTN, Vodafone, AirtelTigo and Glo.

So what happened?

Expresso failed to maintain operating standards set by the National Communications Authority (NCA) and subsequently lost its license to operate.

Airtel and Tigo officially merged to form one entity, becoming the second biggest telecom company (in terms of market share)

Telecom Marketshare

But MTN leads the way with the highest number of subscribers, as well as visibility and services.

The 4G LTE And Fibre Broadband Race

In 2016, MTN acquired 4G LTE 800 Mhz spectrum from the NCA for an amount of $67.5 million and later launched its 4G LTE service to for mobile consumers. This move gave MTN a headstart in the 4G LTE space, making it stand out from its competitors.

It was only recently that Vodafone recently acquired a 4G LTE license to finally operate 4G in Ghana.

That leaves out AirtelTigo and Glo as the only telecom operators without a license to operate 4G in Ghana.

But MTN and Vodafone are not only competing in 4G services but also with fibre broadband services.

Both companies are hard at work trying to get residents and businesses to sign up to their fibre broadband services with lots of visible billboards and attractive pricing.

But what about the second largest network…….where are they in this competitive race….

What Happened to Airtel/Tigo – AirtelTigo?

When AirtelTigo merged, there was lots of expectations that it was going to be a superior network which would offer better options than MTN and Vodafone. But it doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment.

Lucy Quist, former CEO of Airtel left the company shortly after the merger. Roshi Motman was named the CEO of AirtelTigo. But a few months later, Ms Motman left the company as well.

In recent news, AirtelTigo had announced they were making network upgrades but the results weren’t rosy as customers mainly in Accra could not make calls, top up credit or use data bundles which did not help with the network’s customer service image.

There were also the rumors that Orange was interested in buying the merged group of AirtelTigo. There hasn’t been much news in that area for a while now.

So how is AirtelTigo playing catchup to the other networks? Are you going to try and bid for a 4G spectrum? or try to leverage what they currently have?

With the looks of things, they need to come up with a strategy to be more visible because both MTN and Vodafone are eating their lunch.

What’s Next For The Telcos

For the moment, the major battle for consumers’ homes and phone devices appears to be between MTN and Vodafone. From observation, MTN appears to be running away with the telco crown. They have the largest share of subscribers for both voice and data as well as the largest number of Mobile Money users.

But with Vodafone obtaining a 4G license, it could help stay on level playing field. It might ultimately come down to pricing.

Glo network hardly gets a mention because it’s struggling to make headway in Ghana. Network problems and a dwindling customer base, its hard to put them in the race.

AirtelTigo could be major competition but they’re fairly behind both MTN and Vodafone. If MTN and Vodafone play their cards right especially with their fibre broadband expansion, they’re likely to capture more customers to their networks. If AirtelTigo has an ace up its sleeve, it better play it early in 2019.

There will lots of talk about 5G but that would be mostly noise as 5G network deployment in places like the US and Europe are more likely to come about in late 2019 and 2020. Don’t hold your breath for 5G in Ghana just yet.

So that’s where we are now in 2019. One predication is that Glo could leave the space or just offer data and broadband services and cease telecom operations.

MTN and Vodafone will continue their fibre network expansions.

But for now MTN holds the crown when it comes to best Telecom network in Ghana. It’s about to the competition to show what it has to compete.