The three year long bidding war for the second national telecoms operator, Western Telesystems (Westel) came to a nail biting close last Friday when, Kinz Telecom was advised by both the government appointed transactional advisers, NTHC and Databank and the sector Minister that they have emerged the winner out of the four short listed bidders.
Not only did Kinz beat the asking price of $65 million asked for by the transactional advisers, they also pledged to absorb the c40 billion plus debts in the books of Westel, and also proposed to invest $500million in cash and equipment and replicate a full blown social responsibility agenda on women, education, youth, sports development and technology transfer.
Because of the unusually long time the whole transaction has dragged on, Kinz has been asked to move straight to implementation after meeting the Government to demonstrate and discuss issues like roll schedules and the type of technology they would be applying.
What may have done it for KINZ is the depth and array of superior financial, employment and investment opportunities that the company's joint venture partner has demonstrated would bring to Ghana.
Etisalat happens to be the national telecommunication operator of the United Arab Emirates and acknowledged as the dominant telecom company in the Gulf and Middle East. It is the sixth largest company in the entire Middle East with a market value of $88 billion that counts a global satellite company, Thuraya satellite, among its key assets, and provides services to 130 countries around the world.
Its other prized asset is the E-Marine, a submarine cable laying wing of the company which boasts of immense experience in building fibre optic networks as well as manufacturing its own telephone smart cards.
Kinz Telecom chairman Nana Martinson stated 'we were interested in acquiring Westel because we have solid faith in the future of the Ghanaian economy and trust in the country's national telecommunications policy'.
He also revealed that they are teaming up with Hawaii as equipment suppliers and manufacturers; the Far Eastern manufacturer which is gradually displacing Eriksson as the supplier of hardware in the telecoms market.
We are aware that the Government would be excited with our plans to woo and bring in companies in the free zone of Dubai where Ghanaian businessmen and women flock to, to actually relocate here in Ghana and participate in the petroleum, mining, and road construction industries as they have in countries where they are operating.
Kinz promise is that more than 95 percent of top management and staff would be Ghanaian, and at full throttle, some 55,000 Ghanaians would be gainfully employed directly and indirectly!
Touching on its much vaunted social responsibility agenda, Etisalat prides itself as being the pre eminent sponsor of community programmes, women's development, culture and tourism promotion, as well as support for Govt in building schools all round the country, providing schools with telephone and internet and sponsorship for disadvantaged students. In sports, the company promises massive support for the national team, building of Sports academy for the youth, sponsorship of the local league and sponsorship of major international sporting events, something Etisalat does in the United Arab Emirates.
Elaborate training programmes in telecoms would be available at local and external academies to equip staff with telecommunication and IT skills, and local employees would be able to access the Etisalat academy and the Etisalat Techonology University in the Emirates.