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14.11.2005 Business & Finance

Confusion Galore At GT

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We're not laible to GT's problems -NCA The National Communications Authority (NCA) has stated that the predicament of Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited (Ghana Telecom), the national network operator, is neither the making of other operators/competitors nor the authority. A statement signed by Major J. R. K. Tandoh (rtd), Director-General of the NCA, listed factors that contributed to GT's indebtedness. It said GT sold its minutes, domestic and/or international, at rates lower than the agreed interconnect charge. The statement said the company lacked the appropriate systems to collect payments from its subscribers (domestic or international) for services rendered. It also blamed the situation on the lack of internal fraud detection and management systems to mitigate or eliminate fraud, particularly in international call termination. GT REJECT'S NCA'S CLAIM The Ghana Telecommunications Company Limited (Ghana Telecom) has rejected reasons assigned to its indebtedness to GSM operators by the National Communications Authority (NCA). It said the authority's failure to review the interconnect rate had resulted in huge debts of about ¢194 billion to scancom, operators of Areeba, alone. Ghana Telecom is also indebted to Millicom, operators of buzz, to the tune of ¢9 billion and ¢300 million to Kasapa monthly.
The Head of Corporate Affairs of the company, Mrs Afua Asabea Yeboah, in an interview in reaction to NCA's statement yesterday about the dispute over the interconnectivity rate, said the NCA had not been fair to Ghana Telecom, explaining that the NCA was not doing its work well.
She said he NCA was responsible for regulating charges but had never approved realistic rates for the company.
Mrs Yeboah urged the NCA to allow the Ghana Telecom to balance its cost. GT Rubbishes Haruna Iddrisu Daily Guide -- THE MANAGEMENT of Ghana Telecom (GT) has described as misleading, a statement by Hon Haruna Iddrisu, Minority Spokesman on Communications, that the Norwegian Telenor Management Partners (TMP) has not made financial investment in GT. A statement issued by GT's Corporate Affairs Department, indicated, that the agreement between GT and TMP of Norway, does not confer financial responsibility on the Norwegian telecommunication company.
This statement is simply inapplicable to TMP's position in Ghana Telecom, for the simple reason that, the Management Service Agreement (MSA) signed on December 16, 2002, between the government of Ghana and TMP, did not require TMP to provide financial investment. They were only mandated to provide management services, and to secure funding for network expansion and roll-out, which they have done, most creditably,” the statement said.
Hon Haruna Iddrisu MP for Tamale South, and National Democratic Congress (NDC youth organiser, had stated on Metro Television's newspaper review programme, Good Morning Ghana, last week Tuesday, that, the Norwegians had not fulfilled their side of the agreement in the contract, signed with the Ghana Government. Comparing Telenor to Telekom Malaysias, Haruna Iddrisu pointed out that, the Malaysian contract was far better, because it invested in Ghana Telecom. However, GT management said the NDC youth organiser got it wrong, stressing that, there was no basis to compare the two entities.
“It is not in the best interest of anybody to compare Telekom Malaysia with TMP, since a comparison of this sort would be subjective.”
According to GT, the $38 million paid by Telekom Malaysia, did not go into the account of the company, explaining that, there is no record to support the said payments.
“Ghana Telecom has no record of Telekom Malaysia's $38 million investment into the company. The said amount was paid to the Government of Ghana, for the 30 per cent share acquisition of G-Com Ltd”, the statement said. GT urged Haruna to always cross-check his information, before going public, saying that, the company was ready to assist him, in accessing authentic information.
Far from calling the Tamale South MP mischievous, the statement noted that, the assertion that GT management was packed with Norwegians, was a palpable lie. TMP, under the management service agreement, was obliged to provide qualified personnel for the positions of chief executive officer, chief financial officer and chief technical officer.
This, the statement explained, was to be done in consultation with the Government of Ghana, leaving eight other management positions to be filled by Ghanaians.
The statement pointed out that, GT has benefited immensely from the Norwegian intervention in the company, saying that, the expansion programme was steadily progressing.
“Indeed, in less than three years that the TMP-led management has been in position, the vigorous network expansion programme pursued, has added more than 200,000 fixed lines, and 350,000 new ONEtouch subscribers.
“The change programme, launched in 2003, has brought about organisational development, and relevant staff training, a total re-engineering of work processes and procedures, as well as operational and maintenance systems, securing reliable telecommunications to most parts of the country. “Surveys show that, both customer and staff satisfaction has substantially improved, since 2002”, it stated.
GT denied that it had been charging its customers outrageous rates, pointing out that, at no time had ONEtouch rates, within its network, been pegged at ¢2,400.
It explained that, before the on-going “Biggie Promotion”, ONEtouch rates were ¢1,700, for peak periods, and ¢1,400 for off-peak periods.
The statement said, GT has further reduced call rates, within its network, with customers paying ¢1,400 for peak periods, and ¢1,000 for off-peak periods. On GT's relationship with Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) which was also, a subject of attack by Haruna, the statement noted that, GT has been getting on well with other members of GISPA.
It explained that, SAT-3 sub-marine fibre optic cable, which passes through Ghana, is a bonafide property of Ghana Telecom, contrary to the claim, by the MP that, it belongs to the Government of Ghana.
GT said, it bought the fibre optic cable, at a cost of $24 million, and pays quarterly maintenance fee of $200,000 to the SAT-3 Central Billing Party, in France.
“As indicated, Ghana Telecom is the owner of the portion of the cable that passes through Ghana, and not the Government of Ghana, as purported by Hon Iddrisu.
“This shows that there is no issue of Ghana Telecom taking sole ownership of a facility, supposedly bought by government,” it stressed.

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