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General News of Tuesday, 29 May 2018


GVG saga: Telecos not ‘sponsoring’ IMANI – Telecoms Chamber

The Telecoms Chamber has dismissed claims that it is behind policy Think Tank, IMANI Africa’s opposition to the $89 million deal between Ghana and Kelni/GVG.

The Progressive Nationalists Forum (PNF) on Monday accused IMANI, who have been staunch critics of the deal, of fronting for the telecommunication companies.

The convener of the group, Richard Nyamah believes the common platform operated by the company will help government maximise revenue collection in the telco industry, a situation he says the telcos do not want since it would work against their interests.

The Telecom’s Chamber has however rubbished those claims, stating that while they have concerns about the deal, those issues have been expressed to the government directly.

Speaking on Eyewitness News, the Head of Research and Communications at the Telecoms Chamber, Derek Laryea added that although IMANI has also expressed some challenges with the deal primarily about whether is represents value-for-money, the Telecoms Chamber’s concerns are mainly over the security of the data of the service providers and their customers.

“That’s a very pedestrian comment to pass when you do not have clear evidence that I have given money to [IMANI]. Don’t we have mouths? We are communicating on a privacy matter. IMANI is a civil society organisation who are talking about the procurement process, that’s none of our business as industry. Our business is that we have customers’ data to protect and the also the security of our networks. That’s where our interests lie. Our interests are different from what IMANI is speaking about.”

The President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe has repeatedly criticised the deal, raising questions about potential benefits to the country and suggesting that some of the country’s major telcos might not be in support.

“We make money for value analysis, that’s all the campaign is about, the simple question is, if we are spending 1.5 million dollars for the next 10 years, what are you getting in return? That question has not been answered, the Ministry of Communications has not been able to answer that question.”

His comments prompted the accusations from the PNF’s Richard Nyamah that IMANI was fronting for the telcos.

“If IMANI is not being used as a front for them, why is it that, their big Directors and PR and all the people who are being paid fat salaries are not talking? Are you telling me MTN cannot voice their objections to this matter? If they have any objection they know where to go to.”

However, Derek Laryea believes that it is unfair for IMANI’s campaign against the deal to be attributed to the telcos when they have not publicly opposed it.

With MTN, who has been named by the PNF, set to launch their Initial public offering (IPO) today [Tuesday], he said the claims being made by the group could have adverse effects on the telecoms industry.

He stated that the Telecoms Chamber was considering legal action against the PNF’s convenor for the comments he has made.

“The fact that Franklin Cudjoe says something about one of my members’ CEOs does not mean that my said so. You do not have to write a statement and impune the integrity of that CEO and say that he’s conniving with Franklin Cudjoe. That’s a very pedestrian way of communicating. Our lawyers are reviewing the statements he’s making and in due course we’ll advise him and he’ll know where this will end. The people are launching their IPO [on Tuesday], it’s very crucial in the life of the mobile industry. It’s so unfortunate and a shame that we are talking about this.

We are not against monitoring. We have been monitoring for ten years now. If we were doing anything untoward, anybody would have seen it and brought it up….We are operators who work within the law. We respect the laws of Ghana. We’ve looked at the architecture that has been proposed and we’ve raised our concerns with government. As we are having indoor conversations, it’s important that people who do not understand the issues at stake stay away from talking about the mobile operators and deal with other matters with IMANI if they feel that’s what bothers them.

‘Provide evidence of fraud.’

Also speaking on Eyewitness News, Richard Nyamah challenged IMANI to provide evidence of wrongdoing on the part of the government.

According to him, the deal is crucial as it will prevent the telcos from under-declaring their revenue in the future enabling the country to maximise its output from the sector.

“The evidence available to me does not in any way indicate that there’s any wrongdoing. If IMANI Ghana has any evidence, instead of having a radio and TV banter, they’ll do us a lot of good, putting their evidence together, and taking it to the appropriate quarters for redress. We can’t simply take the word of the telcos that they are declaring what they are supposed to. Because knowing individual companies and citizens, if we are given the chance, we’ll under-declare. If they have no problem then they should allow the system to be hooked on.”