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Business News of Monday, 22 June 2020


Mahama brought major telecom reforms – Ato Sarpong claims

Edward Ato Sarpong, former Deputy Minister of Communications Edward Ato Sarpong, former Deputy Minister of Communications

A former Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr Edward Ato Sarpong, has revealed that former President John Dramani Mahama introduced several reforms in the telecommunication sector of the Ghanaian economy when he was the Minister of Communications under the Rawlings administration.

These reforms which include the promulgation of the Act 505 to create the Ghana Postal Services Corporation in 1995, he said, propelled Ghana’s telecom industry to glory days which Ghanaians are enjoying currently.

In an article, Mr Saprong said : “A little over two decades ago, making an international call in the comfort of one’s room was just a dream. To speak to someone overseas, you had to go and book the call at Ghana Telecom, Accra Central, and be given a date to come make the call. On that day, you would join a queue and when it came to your turn, you would enter one of the booths where everyone within the hall would be privy to your conversation. Telecommunications in Ghana was in the hands of only one entity – the Ghana Post and Telecommunications Company – a giant, very deeply asleep, under utilising its resource base and feeding off the little revenue generated by the state.

“Under His Excellency President John Mahama, former President of the Republic of Ghana, but then as Deputy Communication Minister and later as Minister for Communications, major reforms were carried out in the telecommunications sector leading to the decoupling of post and courier services from telecommunications services and resulting in the Incorporation of Ghana Telecom and the promulgation of Act 505 to create the Ghana Postal Services Corporation in 1995.

“Around the same time, Ghana had fallen in love with the Malaysians and saw two major Malaysian investments in telecommunications and media coming into Ghana. One was Telecom Malaysia taking up a 30% stake in Ghana Telecom including management of the entity. The other was the use of the huge assets and resources of the Ghana Film Industry Corporation to enter into an arrangement with Media Prima of Malaysia to create TV3 with the Malaysians taking up a 90% stake in the newly created entity.

“To get the sleeping giant – Ghana Telecom – to wake up, an attempt was made to deregulate the fixed telephony sector with the award of a second national license to another sleeping giant, Western Telesystems Ghana Limited (Westel) creating a duopoly and offering other service providers some options to opt for services from two competing sleeping giants. Westel metamorphosed into Zain when it was acquired by Celltel International which later sold it to Bharti Airtel and rebranded Airtel until its recent merger with Millicom leading to the creation of Airtel-Tigo.”