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06.09.2004 Press Review

Editorial: So what have the Norwegians brought to GT?

By Gye Nyame Concord
Editorial: So what have the Norwegians brought to GT?
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Come to think of it, what has Telenor, the Norwegian-management team at Ghana Telecom (GT) brought to the national telecommunications giant? What is it that Telenor has brought to GT that the dismissed 30% shareholders and former management team, Telekom Malaysia, couldn't in the two years that they have been in charge of the national communications hub?

Will somebody help us out by pointing their achievements, apart from the thousands of communications centres, etc., they have collapsed, to us?

We at the Gye Nyame Concord are finding it difficult to find their achievements. Truth is, if anything has been achieved under them at all, then it's very, very little.

Too little for the guaranteed $150,000 they make a month for just managing the giant telecom facility. Too little considering the fact that even their promise to deliver of 400,000 fixed lines and improve the overall service delivery within a specified period has been changed on the claims of the so-called dispute between the Ghanaian government and Telekom Malaysia, which they claimed led to a delay in the $150 million credit facility from Alcatell Shanghai, China, to them.

Too little considering the fact that even this facility was facilitated largely by the President of the Republic as well as the former Malaysian management team, which began initial negotiation of the issue.

The only probable addition the Bjorn Bjorge-led team at GT have made to the facilities at GT is the new “Broadband 4U' Internet Service Provider company they have set up in competition with others.

But the question is, should that suffice? The truth is that services of the de-facto national telecommunication monopoly, is getting worse. Services are poor, with the notable efficiency being in the revenue collecting mechanism put in place by the Malaysian.

So if you owe GT above c100,000 in most places, your phone line will be cut. But if you have a problem on your phone line for which they even charge a fixed rental amount when you are not using it, or even if they themselves cut you off intentionally or accidentally, you won't have the same efficiency seen in their revenue collection.

On the other hand, the prepaid card system launched by the company after years of planning has become problematic. Most often, one makes a call to the 1099 connecting line, without success.

Added to that is what has been happening in the past few weeks. The connecting mechanism has failed and most of the prepaid card calls would get you the message “You are not allowed to use the card to call this number?”

No matter what number you call you get the same message: be it a GT land line, ONETouch, Spacefon, Buzz, Kasapa or Westel landline.

Call GT's 108 Emergency line and then a GT staff would tell you there is a problem and that they are working on it. Interestingly, they have been working on this problem for the past couple of weeks without having a sense of balance to inform their numerous prepaid phone card customers of the so-called problems and what to do with the cards they cannot use.

Then come to think of it, the once acclaimed ONETouch mobile service launched by the Malaysians has become a pale shadow of itself. When it was launched, the chip was that expensive because the service was an improvement on the existing “Your call cannot be placed at this time” services the other mobile service providers were dishing out to their customers as a result of what GT itself said was over-subscription by those companies.

Today, it looks like GT itself has over-subscribed on the ONETouch network to the extent that “The person you are calling or is put of coverage area” has become their watchword.

So again we ask, what have the Norwegians brought at all? Is it the numerous projects and sponsorship packages they have initiated to raise campaign funds just as the useless venture embarked on by the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) to waste contributors' money and possibly pay some huge kickbacks in an election year in the name of awarding contracts to get Ghanaians abroad to pay loans that are not even due (we would get to that too soon).

So, will somebody tell us what the Norwegians have been doing? Till we get back to this issue again keep reading.