NCA to charge annual rent on new mobile number blocks
Ghanaian telecoms watchdog the National Communication Authority (NCA) is reportedly planning to introduce an additional annual levy on new blocks of mobile numbers. The regulator initially assigned each of the mobile operators in the country a block of ten million numbers (code 02X) for free, and subsequently the cellcos were charged a flat rate of USD1 million for new blocks of ten million numbers (code 05X). NCA deputy director Patrick Laryea has reportedly revealed that the new regime is designed to ensure efficiency in number management, adding that the initial flat rate, which comprises of the cost of the code that comes with the block of numbers, would remain, while an annual rent would be added to motivate telcos to manage the numbers in a more responsible manner.
Further, the regulator plans to introduce different fee tiers, depending on the number of blocks the operators is requesting; for cellcos demanding numbers beyond the first 20 million, the rate will be priced at USD0.4 per number. MTN, Vodafone and Tigo have already crossed the 20 million mark, having already deployed their respective blocks of ten million numbers with 05X code, while Airtel, Glo and Expresso are yet to request a second block.
Laryea also said that the phone numbers are a national resource and the telcos are required to obey the law, which stipulates that inactive numbers should be re-assigned following the mandatory 90-day deadline. The executive said: ‘If you pay annual rent on numbers that remain inactive on your network and do not generate any revenue for you, that would be a loss to you as a telco, so you now have reason to obey the law and deactivate inactive numbers and re-assign them.’ As it stands, it is unclear if the new tax will be passed on to customers.