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General News | Jan 26, 2005

Govt, Telekom Malaysia In Crucial Talks

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THE government will tomorrow meet representatives of Telekom Malaysia to resolve all disagreements related to the termination of the latter's operations in Ghana. That will pave the way for Telenol, the Norwegian concern managing Ghana Telecom, to fully implement its decision to provide 400,000 broad band telephone lines throughout the country.

The Minister of Communications-designate, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, said this in answer to a question put to him by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Bole-Bamboi, Mr John Mahama, during the vetting of ministerial nominees by the Appointments Committee of Parliament in Accra yesterday.

According to Mr Kan-Dapaah, the inability of the Telenol executive to meet its objective of providing that facility within three years stemmed from the court action instituted by Telekom Malaysia against the Government of Ghana.

“I do hope that the issue with Telekom-Malaysia will be dealt with appropriately within the next week,” the minister-designate said.

Mr Kan-Dapaah explained that before the court order, Telenol had made the necessary arrangements with some firms in China towards the execution of the project.

When the MP for Lawra-Nandom, Dr Benjamin Kumbour, asked him to spell out the reasons for the termination of the agreement between the government and Telekom Malaysia, the minister-designate said, “I was not the minister then.

”He, however, conceded that the major contention was that the agreement was skewed in favour of Telecom Malaysia.

Telecom Malaysia owned 30 per cent of the shares of Ghana Telecom yet had more members on the board of directors of the company than the government of Ghana.

When Dr Kumbuor further asked what new strategies Telenol had implemented to improve the fortunes of Ghana Telecom, the minister-designate pointed out that the question was subjective and that to the best of his knowledge, Telenol “ are managers and do not own shares”.

The MP for Nsuta-Kwamang, Mr Osei Prempeh, complained about the prohibitive cost of services by the telecom providers and called on the minister-designate, when given the nod, to standardise their charges to benefit the broad masses of the people.

Replying, Mr Kan-Dapaah said the issue that the MP raised was relative, since the income levels in Ghana, in relation to those of neighbouring countries were different, and added that it would be wrong to draw that conclusion, since operators in such countries charged different rates.

The minister-designate told the committee that the cost of operating telecom services was huge and for that matter the decision to make the rates uniform would render the operators bankrupt, as well as make the country an unattractive destination for investors in that industry.

When the Minister of Women and Children's Affairs-designate, Hajia Alima Mahama, took her turn, she made a passionate appeal to the leadership of the various political parties in the country to encourage and support members of their women's wings to offer themselves for positions within their party structures.

She explained that women would be very emboldened to contest primaries of the political parties and get elected to Parliament if they were appointed as activists of their parties at the constituency, regional or national levels.

Hajia Mahama said that in response to a question by the First Deputy Speaker, Mr Freddie Blay, who doubles as the Chairman of the Appointments Committee. Mr Blay, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Ellembele, wanted to know from the minister-designate what steps she would take to empower Ghanaian women if endorsed by the committee.

According to her, the present number of 25 women MPs in the Fourth Parliament was an indication of the desire of Ghanaian women to aspire to the topmost leadership positions in the society.

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