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General News of Wednesday, 13 June 2018


Communications Ministry, NCA meet CEOs of mobile network operators today

A crunch meeting between the Ministry of Communications, the National Communications Authority (NCA), on one hand, and the chief executive officers of the mobile network operators (MNOs) has been scheduled for today.

The meeting, which will also be attended by the chief operating officers of the telcos, is expected to discuss, among other things, the refusal of the MNOs to physically affix their systems to the common platform (CMP) meant to monitor international and domestic voice and data traffic volumes, revenue and mobile money transactions in an independent way.

As of the close of the deadline issued by the sector minister for all MNOS to comply with the directive to connect to the common platform, none of the members of the Ghana Telecommunications Chamber had complied, citing a court injunction slapped on the contract, which mandates Kelni GVG to undertake monitoring on behalf of the NCA.

A highly place, source at the NCA told the Daily Graphic that there were attempts by the contractor to have the MNOs connect to the platform but “when they were shown the writ, they had to turn away”.

The source said the meeting was necessary to chart a way forward to avoid what seemed to be turning into a turf-war between the MNOs and the ministry.

Meanwhile, some industry watchers have asked the government to soften its stance and continue the engagements with the MNOs to find an amicable solution to the impasse.

According to them, the issue of directives and deadlines, among other threats, were not the right way to go because such an approach would trigger series of legal suits that would rather delay the implementation of the contract.

The controversy

A policy think tank, IMANI Africa, and other civil society organisations have waged a relentless crusade against the $179-million Kelni GVG contract, describing it as needless and overpriced.

The opposers claim that the government did not do any value for money audit before awarding the contract, with the hope of exposing telecom operators which, it suspected, to be unfaithful with the traffic and revenue figures.

But Mrs Owusu-Ekuful has defended the contract with Kelni GVG, arguing forcefully that it was in compliance with the Communication Service (Amendment) Act passed in 2013.

In order to enforce the monitoring regime, a new law, the Communication Service Tax Amendment Act, was passed in 2013.

The law, among other things, is to “establish a monitoring mechanism to verify the actual revenue that accrues to vendors for the purpose of computing taxes due the government under this act and be given physical access to the physical network nodes of the vendors' network at an equivalent point in the network where the network providers' billing systems are connected”.