Ghana: Government Threatens to Revoke Telecom Companies Licenses
Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu last week issued a 24-hour ultimatum to defrauding telecommunication service providers to pay up fines slapped on them by the National Communications Authority (NCA), or risk losing their operating licenses.
The five telecom service providers were fined a total of GH¢ 1.2m for providing poor telecom services to consumers in the 24million people country. NCA, the regulator of Ghana's telecom industry also ordered them to, with immediate effect, improve the quality of services to consumers.
However, the Business Chronicle has learnt that it is only Tigo that has fully paid the fine of GH ¢ 100,000 slapped on it by the NCA. Airtel had paid GH ¢ 150,000 out of its GH¢ 350, 000 fine. MTN had paid GH¢ 50,000 out of GH¢300,000. Vodafone and Expresso were yet to pay their fines.
The vocal and affable Communication's Minister told telecom industry players, regulators and other stakeholders at the launch of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications in Accra that: "Government will no longer tolerate poor telecom services".
Mr. Iddrisu, therefore, called on telecom service providers as a matter of urgency to have standard care for subscribers, saying "Ghanaians desire better".
Touching on the recent SIM box fraud which was masterminded by British and Indian nationals, the sector Minister said Ghana and the telecom operators lost millions of Ghana Cedis.
Iddrisu was quick to add that many of the policies the government is putting in place were targeted at particular challenges which aim at addressing the concerns of the telecom operators and the subscribers. According to him, we are setting up a committee to address the arbitrarily charges by the various Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs).
Iddrisu also suggested to telecom operators in Ghana to set up customer complaint units to enhance the relationship between them and customers.
The Vice President, H.E John Dramani Mahama, who performed the launch, noted that the telecom industry has catapulted the development of other sectors of Ghanaian economy, saying "Ghana has a vibrant telecom industry in West Africa". He observed that currently, the industry was dominated by 90% of voice and 10% of data and urged operators to enhance the development of the industry.
The Paramount Chief of the Akyem Traditional Area, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, who chaired the function, called on telecom service providers to extend their services to all communities of the country. As the operators are here to maximum profits, he entreated them to provide quality services to their subscribers dotted across the country.
The Chairman of the Governing Council of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Philip Sowah, who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Airtel Ghana, said the mission of the chamber is:
"To be the platform that delivers and sustain productive relations between telecom operators and their stakeholders, while maintaining fair and strong competition that yields world class services".
The objectives of the chamber, according to Sowah include guiding and influencing policy formulation in the telecom industry, promote and protect the common interests of operators, and support research and development in telecom in the country.
Reiterating the contributions of telecom service providers in Ghana, the Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Kwaku Sakyi Addo hinted that: "Nearly 40% of mobile operators' revenue go into the Ghanaian government coffers".
The renowned broadcast journalist added that telecom service providers, operating in Ghana since the 1990s, had invested over $5billion into the Ghanaian economy, while the operators employ more than 1.5 million people directly and indirectly.