Vodafone to Reduce Its 48 Exchanges to Two in Ghana

Telecoms

Vodafone is slashing its number of exchanges from 48 to 2 as part of its restructuring which will also mean significant job losses, according to its Head of Corporate Communications Major Albert Don-Chebe.

He said: "In this era of mobile telephony we still have as many as 48 exchanges across the country, most of which are no more needed but we are still running them at huge cost" He said when the company took over the operations of Ghana Telecom, it inherited 4,300 workers, most of whom worked in the exchanges, where landline calls (particularly IDD) going through the company’s network were held and forwarded manually as and when channels were available.

Major Don-Chebe said that a chunk of the staff Vodafone inherited from GT also worked as telephone cable layers. He noted that even after the advent of mobile telephony in Ghana, when it became obvious that most of the company’s staff who worked in the exchanges and as cable layers were not needed, they were still maintained, while persons with relevant skills were hired in addition.

Major Don-Chebe explained that with a subscriber level of about 1.7 million, it had a staff strength of 4,300, which are about 1,100 more than all the employees of the other telecom operators put together. He said that "This is one of the reasons we kept making losses for a long time while the competition was making huge profits".

Major Don-Chebe stressed that management of Vodafone had taken a decision to lay off some of the workers who did not have the skills relevant to the vision and mission of Vodafone.

He cited that there were about 200 women whose sole duty was to channel calls in traffic at the exchanges, but the role of those women became redundant but they continued to be paid every month. "We made a loss of US$264 million last year and we are expecting to make another loss this year, but that will be the end of losses for this company beginning from next year we expect to start making profit and to become productive," Major Don-Chebe said.

He said Vodafone was well on course with its strategic business and was confident that it would meet its profitability and productivity target by the close of 2010. Major Don-Chebe noted that through the installation of infrastructure and introduction of affordable handsets, Ghanaians had received improved services over the past five months.

He had earlier told the GNA that within the past five months Vodafone had gained an additional 900,000 subscribers, raising its subscriber level to 2.5 million. Major Don-Chebe said both promotions were intended to show gratitude to customers and retailers, but they were also paying off in subscriber numbers, assuring the company that productivity and profitability in two years was possible.

Mr. Ekow Blankson, Trading Marketing Manager of Vodafone, also told GNA that since the company started operations, it had gained some 20,000 more retailers of its products, raising the number of retailers from 50,000 to 70,000.

GNA