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14.09.2004 Business & Finance

Dispute Delays Telenor's Business Plan for GT

By Chronicle

The dispute between the Government of Ghana and G-Com, owned by Telecom Malaysia and some Ghanaian investors has delayed the implementation of the business plan of the Telenor Management Partner by about ten months, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Ghana Telecom (GT) and a Representative of Telenor, Mr. Oystein Bjorge has said.

Telekom Malaysia is currently pursuing an international arbitration against the Government of Ghana (GoG), which is now under consideration by the tribunal. Under the terms of the World Bank-sponsored privatization of GT, Telekom Malaysia was entitled to have control and management of GT but the GoG effectively deprived Telekom Malaysia of these rights in 2002. Telekom Malaysia is claiming US$174 million in the international arbitration.

The GoG-controlled GT Board has acknowledged that Telekom Malaysia's arbitration against the GoG had not been affected by the emergency approval of the loans. The Government of Ghana has admitted liability to pay Telekom Malaysia US$50 million from its foreign currency reserves, though Telekom Malaysia says it has yet to receive the payment or any part of the sum due.

This situation, according to Oystein Bjorge, has attributed to delays. The business plan which was submitted on October 2003 sought to make adequate and stable cellular coverage in all regional and district capitals, establishment of 400,000 new fixed lines by the end of 2005, internet connection in all secondary schools and teacher training institutions within three years, high speed data transmission capacity to serve both public and private customer demand and introduction of systems and procedures of fraud detection and prevention.

Other services to be provided included advisory services to the board of GT, training, project management expertise and systems beside obtaining funding from the most competitive financial resources in combination of long-term loans, vendor financing and equity. As well, they would procure the best equipment the market can offer at very competitive prices.

However, secondary schools and teacher training institutions have not seen any internet connection yet. Touching on the mobile phone competition in the country, he said it was very healthy.

GT holds 20% of the number of subscribers, Spacefon, 50% or more, Mobitel, 15% and Kasapa, the rest.

In the company's debt collection exercise, the CEO said mass disconnection had been decided upon as a means of collecting debts.

"Customers who owe to certain amounts would be disconnected from enjoying the services of GT", he added.

He said GT and the government had agreed upon an arrangement where debts owed GT would be used to offset government taxes and duties.

GT's prepaid card system is currently moving on smoothly and according to Oystein, their switches were being upgraded to accommodate more prepaid customers.

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