Mobile Number Portability begins in Ghana


Mobile Number Portability (MNP) comes into effect in Ghana, bringing another revolution into the country’s already dynamic telecoms industry.

On Thursday June 30, 2011, Parliament adopted the report of the Committee on Subsidiary Legislation on the Mobile Number Portability (MNP) Regulations 2011, Legislative Instrument (LI) 1994, and by that action, MNP received the legal backing to begin.

MNP is a process that allows a mobile subscriber who for any reason chooses to change from the existing provider to a competitor to do so and still keep his or her favourite mobile number including the code.

Porting is a process that allows subscribers on network ‘A’ to move to network ‘B’ without having to be assigned a new number. This development is likely to make Ghana’s telecoms sector which industry players have described as ‘extremely competitive’ even more competitive. And this competition has been cited to have led to innovation in the sector.

Initially, MNP was scheduled to have started on July 1, 2011, but was postponed to July 7, because July 1 was a public holiday.

The system to be implemented in Ghana, according to Mr. Joshua K. Peprah, Director, Regulatory Administration at the NCA is “recipient network driven”. What this means, he says, is that the network that the subscriber is switching to is the one to initiate the move. “The subscriber only has to go to the recipient network, or the network he or she wants to switch to and the switch is initiated at that point.”

He said the donor network or the network provider the subscriber is switching from would only have to accept or reject with reasons.

According to the NCA there are only few reasons for rejecting porting. These are: number not being active on the donor network – that is the network that a subscriber is moving away from. Fraud having been reported; phone reported stolen; not enough of the ID items matching with the request.

The request to port to a different operator may not be rejected in the case of debt still owed to the donor network, according to the NCA.

It also says the donor network is obliged to refund any unused portion of deposit that the customer paid to it, after subtracting unpaid bills and usage that has not yet been billed, especially in the case of post-paid customers. Prepaid subscribers however, would lose their credit if they switch to another provider before they have exhausted their calling credit, the NCA says.

The porting or switching to a new provider, according to the NCA, can be done within 24 hours of the request. It is however, not clear who the biggest gainers would be among the country’s five mobile operators. Six companies are licensed to operate in Ghana – these are MTN, Vodafone, Tigo, Airtel, Expresso and Globacom. But Globacom is yet to start operations.

Even though, some subscribers are excited about the prospects, and have indicated their desire to port, service quality, price and what other value added services the providers offer are likely to determine which network the largest number of subscribers would move to.

Some mobile subscribers on Facebook have written on their pages that they would port. One person however, wrote on the Facebook page: “A friend’s description of MNP is moving from one crappy network to anoter”.

The steps to porting are simple. A subscriber who wants to port would have to go to the recipient operator or provider that he or she wants to switch to with the phone. Subscriber must have a valid ID card to be able to initiate the process, because ownership of the phone would be verified, it is important that one uses the same ID card that one used to register the phone.

The recipient network would initiate all the necessary processes and a new SIM card would be provided to the subscriber, provided there are no valid reasons as outlined by the NCA for the donor network to reject the porting request.

Porting should have cost the subscriber $2.5 but some of the providers, have offered to absorb cost.