Vodafone Ghana CEO, Kyle Whitehill has said his company had never shipped out a pesewa to the Vodafone Group since it started operations in Ghana three years ago.
“Vodafone has never shipped one cedi of Ghana outside this country and will never ship one cedi of Ghana in the foreseeable future,” he told Adom News Editor Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona in an exclusive interview following his being adjudged the Telecom CEO of the Year at the recent Second Mobileworld Ghana Telecom Awards.
This ran contrary to the popularly held notion, particularly among people in government, that all the multinational telecom operators in country have been shipping millions of dollars every week out of Ghana. But it did not necessarily answer the question for the rest of the telcos.
Mr. Whitehill said Vodafone had reinvested every cedi it made back into the Ghanaian economy and he did not expect to ship money out of Ghana anytime soon.
“We have invested nearly $600million in Ghana in the last three years and we continue to invest more just like other telcos. Historically some other telcos may have shipped money out of Ghana because they made profits, but not Vodafone, absolutely not,” he said.
Mr. Whitehill said when telcos make profits, Ghanaians would always get their share through taxes, adding that the profitability of the telcos would also mean they could list on the Ghana Stock Exchange for Ghanaians to buy shares and benefit from the success of the telcos through share prices increases and dividends.
“I think that is on the horizon in the next couple of years,” he said.
Vodafone had promised at its entry into Ghana to transform the then seriously-ailing Ghana Telecom (GT) into a 'productive and profitable' company within a matter of two years, and the Vodafone CEO said the company had done just that.
He explained that the productivity of Vodafone as compared to what it met at GT some three years ago was evident in how 1,400 Vodafone staff now generated three times the revenue that the 4,500 GT staff generated before the Vodafone takeover.
“In terms of profitability we can look at it in two ways, one is EBITDA (Earnings Before Investments, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization), which is day-to-day operating profits. For the first time in the 26 years of GT-Vodafone our EBITDA margins are positive, but on the cash side in terms of profit after tax we are not yet positive,” he said.
Whitehill however stopped short of saying when exactly the Telecom Brand of the Year expected to make profits after tax, but sources within the company had hinted Adom News they could start making real cash profits this year.
Owing to a number ongoing tax issues involving Vodafone in India and in the UK, pundits have expressed concern about what could be Vodafone Ghana's behavior towards taxes in Ghana, but Whitehill laid it to rest saying Vodafone Ghana met all of its taxes obligations in Ghana and was actually one of the largest tax payers in Ghana.
He said the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) recently adjudged Vodafone the “Second Most Prompt Taxpayer in Ghana,” second only to telecom market leader, MTN.
Whitehill stated: “I have two government appointees on my board and they see all our books and every pesewa that comes in and goes out so there is no way we can evade taxes and there is no way we can ship money out of this country without they knowing it – we keep very transparent books with the government and I think we are the most transparent commercial organization in Ghana right now.”
But he noted that because Vodafone was not positive on real cash profits, it was not yet paying annual taxes on profits, and that, largely confirmed claims that only MTN and Tigo actually paid annual taxes on profits to government.
Vodafone Ghana won an unprecedented six awards at the recent Second Mobileworld Ghana Telecom Awards, and Mr. Whitehill said “it felt like Vodafone really has properly arrived in Ghana on a public basis - it felt great to be recognized by your industry peers and it felt like we have been recognized for the work and investments that we have made in Ghana.”
Mr. Whitehill assured Ghanaians Vodafone would continue to make more of such investments in Ghana to ensure that Ghanaians got world class communication experience and value for money.
“We got addicted to winning and we want to win again so Ghanaians can only expect the best from us going forward,” he added.
Vodafone Ghana is 70% owned by Vodafone International PLC, and 30% for the Government of Ghana.
Story by Samuel Nii Narku Dowuona/Adom News/Ghana