Feature Article of Monday, 25 June 2012

Columnist: NCA/Consumer & Corporate Affairs Division

Rejoinder By NCA: The National Communications Authority Must Be More Proactive.

The attention of the National Communications Authority (NCA) has been drawn to publications on ghanaweb and other media outlets by a Dr. Ben Ofosu-Appiah in which he asks among others that the NCA puts telcos in check.

Dr. Ofosu-Appiah says he cannot “fathom out what’s going on in Ghana” and wondered whether Ghana has “become a lawless country where state institutions don’t work and people don’t honour their contractual obligations and no sanctions applied to them”; obviously referring to the NCA and its relationship with the telcos operating in the country.

The NCA was established in 1996 by the NCA Act (Act 524) to regulate the provision of Communication services in Ghana. One of its most important responsibilities is to be a neutral arbitrator to investigate and resolve complaints and disputes between subscribers and their licensed operators and anybody involved in the communications industry. But first, the Authority should know about the complaint or grievance to be able to intervene.

Regarding the specific issues of Dr. Ofosu-Appiah and telcos in Ghana, the NCA could not have had knowledge of any contract between Dr. Ben Ofosu-Appiah and Vodafone. We only got to know about that contract when he wrote to us on May 22, 2012 to complain. And as we always do, we acted with dispatch!

And Dr. Ofosu-Appiah acknowledged “the prompt attention” we gave the issue for which reason Vodafone apologised and delivered the service paid for.

However, after acknowledging the prompt attention from the NCA and subsequent positive responses from Vodafone, we were denied the simple courtesy of being informed of the outcome of our intervention. Dr. Ofosu-Appiah only subsequently questions whether telcos in the country are “taking Ghanaians for a ride because the NCA which is supposed to regulate their activities isn’t up to the task”. That is unfortunate being that Dr. Ofosu-Appiah had acknowledged in a previous paragraph the prompt attention to his issue and an equal swift apology and righting of the wrong by Vodafone.

With regard to the personal commercial contract between his mother and MTN on a lease agreement, we are at a loss as to how Dr Ofosu-Appiah, a policy analyst would expect the NCA that was not party to his transactions to have any knowledge of his fiduciary engagements. We only got to know about it when he decided to make the transactions of his family with the telco public and sent us a complaint on June 17, 2012. Per a reply from MTN on June 19, 2012, they had apparently made an attempt to settle their indebtedness with his mother but were unable to do so because they could not contact her on the telephone number she provided on a document she forwarded to them. MTN also claim to have communicated same to Dr. Ofosu-Appiah and encouraged his mother to forward her bank details to them for direct payment into her bank account.

It may interest Dr. Ofosu-Appiah that by the day, the NCA is called upon by communities like Parkoso to impress on telcos to de-commission telecom masts for fear of disasters. We are still grappling with this dilemma which to us, is like a chicken and egg situation.

It is regrettable therefore, that after all these interventions, Dr. Ofosu-Appiah could still go ahead to publish such an article in the media for purposes we are finding extremely difficult to appreciate.

Insertions like “a failed state”, “lawless country where chaos and gangsterism reign” from a Ghanaian of that high stature do not present this dear country of ours in the light that well meaning leaders work tirelessly to present to the generations that should keep the flag flying. And for Dr. Ofosu-Appiah who may one day leave his sojourn to superintend the business of Ghana, it’s not all doom in Ghana. At least some institutions are making sure the country does not become a “failed state. And remember; if your house does not sell you, the street will not buy you!

The NCA would like to draw the attention of Dr. Ben Ofosu-Appiah and other consumers of telecommunications products to our complaint procedure. This procedure requires a dissatisfied/aggrieved consumer to: a. First contact the service provider with the complaint/grievance. b. If not satisfied with the response, the consumer may then lodge a complaint with the NCA. c. The detailed complaint procedure can be found on the NCA website, www.nca.org.gh and flyers we have distributed all over the country.

Complaints to the NCA can be done in different forms. It can be done directly at the ‘MAKE A COMPLAINT’ section on the NCA website or by a letter to the Complaint Unit of the NCA. A downloadable Consumer Complaint Form (CCF) can also be obtained from the Authority’s website. Consumers can also call the Complaints Unit on (+233) 307-014419).

A final option is for dissatisfied consumers to walk into any of our offices in the regions to directly lodge complaints.

Below are the Addresses of the NCA:

HEAD OFFICE, ACCRA The Director General, National Communications Authority 1st Rangoon Close P. O. Box CT 1568 Cantonments, Accra. Tel: 0302 776621/0302 2771701 Email: complaints@nca.org.gh

TAKORADI The Zonal Manager, National Communications Authority P. O. Box SL 409, Sekondi. Tel: (+233) 3120-28073/3120-28049 Fax: (+233) 3120-28063 Email: complaints@nca.org.gh

TAMALE The Zonal Manager National Communications Authority P. O. Box TL 1590, Tamale Tel: (+233) 372028103-5 Fax: (+233) 372028102 Email: complaints@nca.org.gh

KUMASI The Zonal Manager National Communications Authority P. O. Box KS 10768, Kumasi Tel: (+233) 3322-20014 (+233) 3322-20018 (+233) 3322-20019 Fax: (+233) 3220-20064 Email: complaints@nca.org.gh

Issued By the Consumer & Corporate Affairs Division The National Communications Authority- NCA