Ghana’s WESTELhas agreed to settle USD25 million in non-performance penalties to the the regulator National Communications Authority (NCA) for failing to roll out the number of lines expected of it in accordance with its licence agreement with the authority.

WESTEL, the second national network operator, which began operations in 1996, was expected to provide 50,000 telephone lines in five years but has, up to date, provided only 3,000 lines.The Minister of Communications, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, who announced this in Accra yesterday, at the weekly meet-the-press series, said the ministry had been in constant negotiations with the company to ensure that the issue of payment was resolved.

He also indicated that the ministry had facilitated negotiations to address the commercial disputes catalogued by WESTEL as inhibiting its progress in the areas of interconnectivity between it (WESTEL) and GhanaTelecom, as well as their problem with the NCA over the GSM band spectrum allocation.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said what had also been resolved was the dispute over the recapitalisation of WESTEL, involving the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), a major shareholder of the company.

"WESTEL has informed the ministry that they were satisfied with agreements so far concluded with GT on interconnection agreement and with the NCA on GSM frequency allocation", he added. To this end, Mr Kan-Dapaah said WESTEL was expected to show marked improvement in service delivery by the close of the year.

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