Ghana’s underserved mobile users are the key for Telecel’s West African growth, says CEO

Moh Damush has said Ghana could be an excellent hub to serve surrounding markets

Telecel Group, has said it is focusing on winning over market share in Ghana, which could become a key to the company’s expansion in the region.

Telecel, which entered Ghana last year when it bought the business from Vodafone Group Plc, is going to focus on building out its fintech offering and will target underserved parts of the population, chief executive officer Moh Damush said in an interview in Accra.

Ghana is the largest market where Telecel operates and has a data-hungry market with good growth potential, he said.

“We believe Ghana could be an excellent hub to serve surrounding markets,” Damush said.

“There could be chances to expand in the Central African region, but at this time the company’s growth strategy is focused on West Africa.”

It is competing with MTN Group. The South African telecom is Africa’s biggest wireless carrier by revenue and is particularly dominant in Ghana, a West African country with 33 million people and as many mobile-phone voice subscriptions.

The Johannesburg-based operator has 72% of the market for voice service and 79% of data subscriptions, according to a report last year from the National Communications Authority (NCA).

Telecel Ghana trails with 19% and 13% for voice and data respectively and a smaller third carrier, AT, has the rest.

The country’s telecommunications regulator has tried to loosen MTN’s grip by fixing a price floor and preventing promotions. Still, local competitors have struggled to match the South African operator’s network investments.

“A big challenge is that new investors will have to spend a lot of money on their infrastructure,” said Sam Aluko, a partner at KPMG in Ghana.

While MTN had 2,000 more 4G towers than Vodafone Ghana when Telecel acquired the company, Telecel has added another 500 sites in the last year, Damush said.

The government owns a 30% share in Telecel’s Ghanaian unit. The company will consider going
public after it strengthens its market position, Damush said.

For Telecel, winning market share in Ghana is part of a bigger push to take a bigger share of the continent, and the company has been snapping up assets across Africa.

It entered Liberia in 2021 and is now working to complete the acquisition of MTN units in Guinea-Bissau and Guinea to bolster its West African portfolio. Further south, it has operations in the Central African Republic and the Democratic Republic of Congo.

To support its offering regionally, Telecel Group’s next round of acquisitions will be focused on fintech companies, Damush said.

“These won’t necessary just be transactional fintech; we are also talking about micro-financing companies, micro-wealth management companies, micro-investment companies,” with an eye to integrating Telecel’s mobile-money service into these providers, he said.

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