Business News of Thursday, 24 March 2016
Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo has refuted claims by the Ministry of Communications that the Interconnect Clearing House (ICH) will be able to combat SIM box fraud.
He said the ICH will not be able to fight SIM box fraud because it does not have the capacity to detect international calls routed through SIM boxes into the country.
He said the current status of the ICH is to conduct interconnect calls – that is calls made through the approved route into Ghana. An approved route is calls made from one external network to a network in Ghana.
But SIM Box fraud routes international calls using the internet into a local network so that the call looks like a local call. This is what the ICH will not be able to detect and control them.
Speaking on the JOY FM’s Super Morning Show, Mr Sakyi-Addo said: “I would be delighted to get rid of SIM box fraud because it hurts network operators” but added the ICH cannot do that.
SIM box fraud is simply the practice of airtime smuggling where some persons make international calls appear as locals at a rate lower than the legally mandated 19 cents charged per a minute call.
On March 22, the Deputy Communications Minister, Mr Sarpong disclosed on the Joy FM’s Super Morning Show that the ICH will be able to combat the menace of SIM box fraud which some communications experts say cost the nation some $900, 000 every five months.
However, Mr Sakyi-Addo said the ICH does not have the necessary infrastructure to detect and control calls made through SIM boxes into the country.
According to him, government officials will only be able to combat SIM box fraud if they listen to calls by the telcos to have the 19 cent charge rate per minute on international calls reduced.
He intimated the current 19 cent charge rate on international calls per minute is backed by law making it difficult for the telcos to modify it to protect their customers.
“If you charge less than 19 cents you pay a penalty of 200 per cent”, he said.
Regulatory Director of TIGO Ghana, Sylvia Owusu-Ankomah said the ICH “will not solve any problem” because it is being mandated to perform functions executed by the telecommunication companies themselves.