Trouble In Paradise: What Happened To AirtelTigo?

The headline might seem alarmist but the recent news about CEO departures at AirtelTigo might seemingly point to some internal struggles at the company to keep its talent.

In just two years, the company has had its CEOs resign from their positions to pursue other ventures. Is there trouble brewing or is it just a coincidence?

Let’s look at the events that transpired and look at how we got here:

Timeline Of Events

Airtel and Tigo were once separate telecom companies competing in the Ghanaian market. Airtel Ghana began operations in 2010 while Tigo had been operating since 1991.

The major competing networks were MTN, Vodafone, Tigo, and Airtel. Lucy Quist and Roshi Motman were both CEOs at the helm at Airtel and Tigo respectively.

In 2017, rumors began to emerge about a possible merger between Airtel and Tigo. There were also whispers of the telecom company, Orange, purchasing the newly formed entity.

But fast forward and while both Airtel And Tigo did eventually merge in late 2017, the rumors of a takeover by Orange didn’t come to fruition.

When the two telecom companies merged, they named the new entity “AirtelTigo”.

With the newly merged company, AirtelTigo became the second largest telecom company in mobile market share behind MTN, surpassing Vodafone.

Source: National Communication Authority (NCA)

Jumping A Sinking Ship?

Roshi Motman was named CEO of AirtelTigo in late 2017 while Lucy Quist, the former Airtel CEO departed the company soon afterward.

Roshi Motman, former CEO of Tigo and AirtelTigo

In 2018, Roshi Motman officially resigned from the company to pursue new opportunities. Mitwa Kaemba Ng’amb was then named as Interim CEO.

In a surprise twist, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’amb resigned from the AirtelTigo in September 2019, citing “personal reasons”. She had been CEO for just over 1 year. The Chief Operating Officer, Mr. Murthy Changanti, took over her role.

Mitwa Kaemba Ng’amb, current CEO of MTN Rwanda

But just last week, Mitwa Kaemba Ng’amb was named CEO of MTN Rwanda, just a week after announcing her resignation from AirtelTigo.

In just two years, AirtelTigo had two appointed CEOs, resign the company almost abruptly, to pursue other opportunities. Anyone could speculate that there might be internal turmoil within the company but for now, we have to stick to the facts at the moment.

Where Does AirtelTigo Go From Here?

At the moment, AirtelTigo might be facing an uphill battle when it comes to competition. Both MTN and Vodafone have 4G services that they offer to their customers. Both companies are also offering other services in the form of broadband and fiber internet services for households and businesses.

Currently, AirtelTigo is trying to differentiate with their bundle subscriptions. They recently announced their Fuse bundle which allows new prepaid customers to call all networks and browse the internet at affordable price points with no expiry.

But is that enough to entice mobile subscribers to go to AirtelTigo?

As of May 2019, AirtelTigo had 9 million voice subscribers according to the National Communications Authority (NCA). This is compared with MTN who had 21 million voice subscribers and Vodafone with 10 million subscribers.

So where does AirtelTigo go from here? Will they made a bid for 4G spectrum to compete with MTN and Vodafone? Will they push more offerings for their home internet services? Or will the rumors of an Orange takeover come to fruition?

There’s lots to speculate but we don’t have the facts to back it up. As of now, the AirtelTigo brand might not be in the best of shape and their competitors seem to be innovating at a faster pace. We’ll wait and see if the company can offer something different in the months to come.