40 international telecommunications firms are each vying for the place as the third network telecommunications operator in Ghana. The rush in presenting their applications to the National Communications Authority (NCA) followed a recent NCA announcement that it is contemplating allowing a third company to provide telecommunications services alongside Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited (Ghana Telecom) and Western Telesystems (Westel).

The acting Director-General of the NCA, Major (retd) J. R. K. Tandoh, told journalists last week in Accra, saying that the authority has developed comprehensive criteria for the selection of the third company. Major Tandoh said the company which will receives approval must be financially sound and must have the expertise, elaborating that experience has become a guiding principle in the efforts of the NCA in grant a license to another operator so as to avoid problems.

As regards the controversy about the breach of contractual agreement between Westel and the state in regard to the company’s ability to fulfil its terms of reference which resulted in the slapping of a $25 million-fine, Major Tandoh said that the issue is still being resolved.

He disclosed that NCA and the management of Westel are holding discussions on the payment schedule for Westel. He announced that the authority has made gains in recovering debts owed it and that about ¢150 million representing 60 per cent of unpaid tariffs (spectrum fees) has been recovered since the NCA embarked on an exercise for the settlement the debt.