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09.05.2005 General News

Govt urged to initiate policies for accelerated telecom growth

By GNA

Accra, May 9, GNA - Internet Service Providers (ISP) has asked the Government to initiate policies that would stimulate the accelerated growth of the telecommunication sector to help boost the economy. Speaking at a media briefing on Monday, the members of the ISP said the polices should be jointly developed in consultation with the local entrepreneurs who had committed capital for research and the establishment of businesses in telecommunication.

The briefing, served as a platform for Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) to raise and discuss some of the bottlenecks in the sector.

Mr Richard Hlomador, a member of GISPA said the anti-trust practices by the incumbent telecom operator, Ghana Telecom, unhealthy practices in seeking investment capital from the banks and the non-transparent and illegitimate practices by decision makers in government in the award of contract to both local and foreign providers were some of the factors affecting the industry negatively. He said it was the critical duty of the Government to create an enabling environment for business entities, particularly the private telecom and Internet operators, whose untiring efforts had helped in the total growth of the communication industry.

Mr Hlomador indicated that the environment had been pervasive with disregard to the local service providers in the award of contracts. "We strongly believe that the Ghanaian economy, let alone the telecom private sectors in Ghana, are systematically being strangled and suffocated by practices by government institutions, and unless a drastic change happens the economy will slowly grind to an eventual halt," Mr Hlomador warned.

Mr Eric Osiakwa, Secretary of GISPA, said between 1992 and 1995 when Ghana ventured into full Internet connectivity, members of the Association had been playing a key role in ensuring that the country was fully connected to the net.

He said the combined efforts of ISP in Ghana had realised over 50 million dollars in asserts and infrastructure hence the need for Government to offer its total support to the providers to enable them to play their meaningful roles to re-engineer the economy.

Mr Leslie Tamakloe, Chief Executive Officer of Internet Ghana, who also spoke of operational hurdles, said the activities of Ghana Telecom, inaction and ineffectiveness of the National Communication Authority as well as the undue advantage given to new market entrants had thwarted the efforts of the local entrepreneurs to provide the country with connectivity.

He said while Ghanaian entrepreneurs were taken through a long period of procedures before they were granted licenses to operate, some foreign counterparts were spared such a hurdle.

GISPA also called on the authorities to investigate a foreign ISP operator "Infinite Stream" with network deployed ready to lunch but whose incorporation, licensing and frequency allocation records could allegedly not be located at the NCA and the Registrar-General's Department.

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