General News of Thursday, 8 May 2014
Policy Focus, the research company that undertook the mobile cellular consumer satisfaction survey for the National Communications Authority (NCA) says when given the same opportunity, it could undertake a similar exercise at a cheaper cost.
According to the NCA, the survey, which sought information on consumer satisfaction within the telecom industry, was done at a cost of about Ghc3.5million.
But speaking on Citi FM Wednesday morning, the Chief Executive of Policy Focus, Mr. David Mensah, said at the time of the survey in 2012, the cost could not have been cheaper than Ghc3.5million, “but possibly now yes.”
“Because as a result of the survey, we now have the structures in place, so going over the same thing, it will be far far cheaper,” he said.
He explained they have gained the opportunity to put those structures in place and now have an idea of how to go about it.
Ironically, Nana Defie Asamoa-Bonsu Badu, Director of Consumer and Corporate Affairs at the NCA, who was also on the same platform of Citi FM and had earlier argued that Policy Focus had been selected because of their experience, supported the assertion that they could now do the survey cheaper because of the experience gained.
“I don’t think the point is that he (Pollicy Focus) didn’t know anything. It is because the experience has given him the opportunity to put those structures in place so now he has an idea of how to go about it.”
Asked about the recruitment process by the NCA which took into consideration the experience of the consultant, Nana Defie Badu said Policy Focus was not going to use the same methodology that it had used for previous national surveys. She said the company had to come out with a new methodology.
She agreed with the assertion that the survey could now be done cheaper not because monies were wasted in the first one but because now some structures would be in place.
Budget on high side
The NCA’s budget of Ghc3.5million has been described as being on the high side for such a survey, which sought to determine the perception of mobile phone users with regards to the services they receive from their telecom service providers.
According to the NCA, the survey was commissioned in September 2012 and the report finalised in September 2013.
The President of IMANI Ghana, Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, for instance, has said the survey could have been conducted with a budget less than $30,000 and has raised issues with the background of Policy Focus, which has declined to name its principals and detailed previous assignments they have undertaken.
According to Mr. Cudjoe, the NCA needs to make public names of other shortlisted bidders and their costs and summaries of their technical proposals.
He thinks the NCA's Policy Focus report needs to be subjected to an ex-post facto evaluation for a simple reason; to gauge if the tax payer would not have been better served had even the Ghana Statistical Service (which conducted a population census for 24million people at Ghc3 per head against Ghc250 per head by Policy Focus.)
On Citi FM Wednesday morning, the NCA’s Consumer and Corporate Affairs Director admitted that the NCA had no idea of how much the survey was to cost before it commissioned the survey.
Asked whether the NCA had an idea of how much it was going to cost she said, “no the NCA wouldn’t have an idea of the cost of the project. Because in carrying out this research, the consultant would have to determine how they would train people, where they will get their enumerators from, whether they are going to select them from the regions or Accra and all those will go into their financial cost.”
“So it was not like the NCA is sitting down and say we have devoted an amount of this,” she said. She, however, explained that the NCA had a budget which it operated with and that the survey was not carried outside of its budget.
Why Policy Focus was chosen
Nana Defie Badu explained that the basis for choosing Policy Focus was because, they looked at their background, expertise and work they have already done and they were superior because they had been involved with nationwide researches of that kind and they had the track record.
She said four companies responded to the expression of interest published by the NCA in February 2012, but only two companies responded with a proposal and that Policy Focus was selected based on technical and financial advantages over the other firm.
She, however, refused to name the other firm.
She said Policy Focus submitted a document that they felt led to the terms of reference the NCA required in respect of the sampling size, methodology, analysis and reporting.
She said in terms of sampling, they required the consultant to provide a quantitative research method for mobile phone subscription population of about 20million as of September 30, 2011. But the actual survey made use of August 30, 2012 which was 24,400,000 subscribers.
They were to employ face to face target audience in all 170 districts within the country.
Explaining how the Ghc3.5million was spent, Mr. David Mensah of Policy Focus said there were six key areas.
Instrument design at Ghc70,420
“We spent a total of Ghc70,420 on instrument design but that involved piloting of the instrument and printing of a little of over 14,000 copies of the 26-page document. We acquired enumeration area maps from the Ghana Statistical Service and also developed training manuals.
Training of trainers at a cost Ghc77,473
He said a total of 30 people were recruited as trainer of trainees and that these people included research assistants most of whom were second degree holders because they were to churn out quality data.
“We trained them for three days, did a field testing where they administered four questionnaires each. At the end of day, we shortlisted 23 and took them to the next level. The cost for this level was Ghc77,473. This was an in-house training that covered accommodation.”
Training of interviewers at Ghc473,500
Mr. Mensah explained they recruited 300 people but chose 280 at the end. Their background was diploma and first degree holders. We trained them and did field testing of instruments. They conducted four interviews and we used this to test their comprehension of the exercise.
The training took three days in Accra for the southern zone of the country and Kumasi for the northern zone. The cost was Ghc473,500.
Data collection at Ghc2,184,700
Data was collected over a period of 30 days in the field and the costs covered accommodation, communication and transport. On the average, there were 20 enumerators per region but 23 in Greater Accra and Ashanti regions.
Community guides were also recruited to assist the enumerators to identify landmarks in the field
This level took about three months at a cost of Ghc274,790.
The last level of data analysis, report writing and printing of reports and presentation was at a cost of Ghc91,610
Mr. Mensah said in all the sample size for the entire exercise was 14,000.