No Licence For New Telecom Firms in Ghana

Telecoms

The National Communications Authority (NCA) has stated that it will not issue any new licences with the possible exception of data licences to encourage Internet take-up.

Bernard Forson, Director General of NCA, who made this known in Parliament during a scrutiny of the NCA’s audited report for 2005, by the Public Accounts Committee last week, said Ghana’s spectrum for additional operators has been exhausted by the six existing licensed operators, and therefore there was no room for new ones.

David Oppong- Kusi, Member of Parliament for Ayirebi-Ofoase and a member of the committee had wanted to know if the NCA was considering a ceiling on the number of telecommunication operators that could serve Ghana’s over 23 million population.

But the NCA Director General stated that though he did not foresee additional new players coming on board presently, Ghana was not ready to have an extra pure voice telecommunication company in the industry.

He later explained to Business Guide in an interview that with the exception of Glo, which was yet to start operations, 5 of the authorized companies - MTN, Vodafone, Zain, Tigo and Kasapa were competing furiously for customers.

Forson however told the committee that there was avenue for more telecommunication companies who wished to solely offer data services. He said more data services would increase Internet access throughout the country.

When queried about the indiscriminate erection of masts across the length and breath of the country, he admitted it was a real challenge for the authority even though he said that was being addressed.

He informed the committee that an inter-ministerial committee made up of representatives from the ministries of Environment, Science and Technology; Communications and also Local Government & Rural Development, were working on a document to help address the challenge.

In the audit report, the auditors mentioned that the NCA had no data on operators while also there was no monitoring to establish whether they had paid up their initial or renewal fees. Defaulting operators, the auditors said, under such circumstances, could continue to use frequencies without being detected and therefore advised NCA to explore the use of a utility billing system software.

When asked to react to this proposal, the Director General explained that though billing of operators in the communications regulatory environment was complicated, NCA kept files on operators with their financial records and subsequently billed them accordingly. “Payments of the operators are not equal and we also give them some time to do their interconnection reconciliation. We have the date electronically,” he said.

Total revenue of NCA increased by 14.7 percent from ¢79.29 billion in 2004 to ¢90.89 billion in 2005 while general and administrative expenses nearly doubled from ¢24.73 billion in the previous year to ¢44.26billion in the year under review.

Business Guide