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General News of Sunday, 20 May 2018

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Ursula flirting with potential $90mn financial loss in ‘Subah-like’ deal - IMANI warns

Policy Think Tank IMANI Africa has warned the Communication Minister to tread cautiously not to land the country in a financial loss in a new Subah-like deal.

Founder and President, Franklin Cudjoe in write up sighted by Myjoyonline said Ursula Owusu Ekuful’s response to its earlier red flags only opens a can of worms pointing to a shady deal.

Government has admitted to contracting GVGKelni to render revenue assurance services in the telecommunication sector but vehemently denies claims by IMANI Africa that the company is duplicating the services of two existing companies.

The minister explained that the contracts signed with Subah and Afriwave have been terminated and reviewed respectively to prevent any form of duplication of services with GVGKelni.

She said contrary to claims by IMANI that the contract awarded to the new company is a drain on the resources of the country, the Minister insists Ghana is making a monthly savings of $1.1 million on account of GVGKelni’s engagement.

Mrs Owusu Ekuful reiterated that the Ghanaian owned company was appointed in 2017 after it emerged that the two companies- Subah and Afriwave- failed to render the services for which they were contracted but still got paid.

But Mr Cudjoe discounted her claims wanting to know why is there a current injunction by Subah if the pre-existing contracts have been terminated.

“Subah has taken the Ministry of Communication (MoC), National Communications Authority (NCA) to court and won an injunction which restricted the Telcos from dealing with any new service provider because they have a legitimate contract with government.

“Why will the MoC not wait to close all outstanding issues with Afriwave and Subah but proceed to issue letters of termination and assume that is how contracts are terminated?” he quizzed.

According to him, at a meeting in February 2017 at the Holiday Inn meeting, IMANI was told that indeed the arrangement was for the NCA and Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) to own the capacity to do the monitoring of revenues.

Mr Cudjoe said it is, therefore, shocking that the two entities are not monitoring the revenues but another private company has been engaged at a staggering cost of $90 million.

Below is the response by IMANI Africa

Your Response to Publication Opens A Huge Can of Telecom 'Worms' - IMANI to Communications Ministry

1. Why is the Minister who is a lawyer paying almost $1.5million a month for five years to a new company to look for what does not exist or waste time on mistrust? “If Minister talks about international benchmarks and standards, don’t we rather pay the company only if they find hidden revenue? Is that not how companies who come to look for oil get paid? Should it not be you find, you earn a percentage? The Ministry’s own statement says they contracted GVG in December 2017 but their activities/ services will only be functional in July 2018. So, why pay them $1.5m a month for being non-functional until July 2018?

2. By our checks, none of the major Telcos have connected to anything GVG. The fully equipped common Monitoring system referred to by the Minister is probably equipped devices which are a figment of their imagination and certainly is not anything the mobile telecom industry is aware of.

3. How are you rationalizing $2.5 million to $1.5 million from voodoo contracts does it make you assume you are saving so you can enjoy a bad contract? Exactly what basis was used to cost the service, and what exactly is the work order being executed to warrant outstanding payments of $7.5million till date? A Ghana beyond aid will not happen with projects that do not pass value for money audits tests.

4. What is the actual estimate of calls lost to simbox fraud per month that should require monthly outlays of $1.4 million? We need the data on estimated losses through SIMBOX fraud, and that data should tell all Ghanaians whether the SIIT related law in itself isn't redundant.

5. In testing the system so far, is there any variance between CDR data and the data they purport to be getting from GVG's system?

6. The GHIPPS system is the clearing house that clears all of Ghana's formal financial transactions at the moment. Is the Ministry of Communication saying that GHIPPS data cannot be trusted and therefore they need extra systems to validate OUR NATIONAL clearinghouse data?

7. Are we saying that we simply trust that the data checks will not be intrusive just because NDAs were signed? Are the GVG people angels? What is the actual technical specification of the systems they are putting in place and how exactly is user data being obfuscated? We know in the case of the CDRs the caller phone numbers were hashed in the reports. Tell us how by connecting directly to telcos in their internal infrastructure in such an intrusive manner this will be executed.

8. Can we trust a company that is being paid $89 million over 5 years not to have a simple website, when even tabletop entrepreneurs with an annual turnover of ¢1000/ $250 have websites?

· Why are they so secretive?

· Why don't they have a secure website?

· Why do they not have search indexes on Google?

· Why, as a technology company since 1995 they do not have any clients listed on their websites?

· Why do they have a dubious domain hosting redirect platform? Even the CIA and the NSA have actual websites with actual information

· How do we pay $89 million with an automatic renewal of another $89 million over 10 years for an IT company which does not even pay attention to simple and basic website protocols?

· How come the website of the company was registered only after Christmas last year, even after they signed a contract?

· How come not a SINGLE engineer or IT specialist of them has their CV anywhere?

9. How was the procurement done under the supposed laws of Ghana, and what does the law saw for contracts about $90million dollars? No tender? No due diligence, their website exposes a lot.

10. Who is fronting for GVG? Can we start seeing their owners?

11. Mobile money monitoring? Who’s purview? Is mobile money which is aiding financial inclusion a taxed service to guarantee monitoring? This is a needless component of this deal. Central Bank and MoF are in charge of the financial space.

12. In any case where is the Finance Minister’s signature on the contract and on this statement only the MoC is driving?

13. They should call the Attorney General and ask where she is, in all this ongoing court cases injunctions and cancellation of contracts.

14. Ghanaians will have their data threatened if they allow this GVG company to play with their phone calls, chats, everything. Mind you, this is a company with a website that is so vague it is phoney, with very strange characters behind it since all it has, for a security company of its pedigree, are stock photos.

15. In summary, we refer to Kwaku Sakyi Addo's statements in 2014 which called Subah “irredeemably incompetent” or fatally fraudulent” for being paid 75million for no work done. These comments are rich even today and maybe we should start hearing also from the author who is the current board chairman of the NCA paying these monies to GVGKelni.