Mergers, Acquisitions and Financial Results

Issue 193: Telecentres special: Reaching those parts the market cannot yet Reach

Amir Alexander Hasson

Issue 193: interconnection issues still plaguing Ghanaian mobile market

This letter was sent February 6, 2004 to the Editor of the Ghanaian Chronicle in response to an article we reprinted last week:

I have consulted with my counterparts at Spacefon, Mobitel, and Westel, and this letter represents our view regarding the above­captioned article.

While the Chronicle on Saturday published the article on January 31 under the by-line Joseph Coomson, it is in fact a word-for-word copy of an article published in the Vanguard, a Nigerian newspaper, on January 28 2004, under the by-line Godfrey Ikhemuemhe. This article was subsequently picked up by several internet web sites, all of whom gave proper "credit" to the source.

Perhaps "blame" would be more appropriate than "credit"; from beginning to end, this article is laden with so many factual errors that we are astonished any Ghanaian news outlet would publish it at all, much less try to pass it off as locally-written. Here is but a small sample of the errors:

- Spacefon has 535,000 customers, not 120,000. It was never analog; it has been GSM since launch in 1996.

- Buzz, not "Bass", is the name of Millicom’s prepaid GSM service; its other services are still branded Mobitel. It has 170,000 customers, not 60,000. There is no coverage restriction in its license.

- Westel was never an "offshoot" of GNPC’s "communications department". GNPC was, but no longer is, a minority shareholder in this company, which is controlled by Western Wireless International of the US. It has not been "unable to pay" the fine this year, but is still settling with the NCA the conditions that must be met before payments will be made.

- You claim that One Touch is the first choice of Ghanaian subscribers while stating that Spacefon has more subscribers (which is correct, although you gave the wrong number).

- Kasapa is a subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Limited, a multinational company headquartered in Hong Kong, not "Hutchson, an American company based in Hungary". Kasapa’s license contains no coverage restriction whatsoever.

Get the picture?

You really can’t fix this story. You didn’t even write it. You must, however, retract it fully.

Robert N. Palitz
Managing Director
Kasapa Telecom Ltd.

NB This story has been removed from our website and thanks to our Ghanaian readers for pointing out its multiple errors.