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05.12.2005 General News

NCA must dispel negative comments - Kan-Dapaah

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Accra, Dec. 5, GNA - Telecommunications Minister, Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah on Monday asked the National Communications Authority (NCA) to be proactive in explaining issues that bordered on the sector's regulation to stem negative public comments.

Effective communication, the Minister said, was important to enable the NCA to discharge its regulatory functions without speculations. In reference to recent media publications about interconnection difficulties between telephone companies, Mr Kan said it was sad that the NCA was unable to come out with facts and explanations to respond to the speculation but "rather came out with a statement that was clearly judgemental creating further instability in the sector".

Mr Dapaah was speaking at NCA consultative forum to seek stakeholders' inputs as to how best to implement the government policy as enshrined in the National Telecommunication Policy (NTP-05). The Forum was on the theme: "National Telecommunication Policy: Towards Further Liberation of the Telecom Sector." Mr Kan-Dapaah said the Government had all along viewed the NCA as an independent regulatory authority and would not want to interfere in its work.

He said much as the Government was concerned about the orderly development of the sector, it would not be in the interest of the industry for the Government to meddle in regulatory issues. "It is the expectation that the NCA will make it unnecessary for the Ministry to intervene in regulatory issues, unless, of course, for the purposes of clarifying policy matters."

Mr Kan-Dapaah said while problems of interconnections were not peculiar to Ghana, the complaint was that it seemed there was a structural problems in the interconnection relationship between fixed network operators and mobile network operators, which tended to lead to imbalances with respect to the competitive and financial situations of these companies and to some inconsistencies with respect to end user tariffs as compared to interconnection/wholesale tariffs. He said the Government was committing itself to improving communication facilities and diversifying the means to access through the utilisation of appropriate telecommunication system and building a robust national backbone infrastructure.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said in line with this the Government was using the VOLTACOM optic fibre as a basis for the national backbone infrastructure with plans to extend its reach to the northern parts of the country and connected to the SAT-3 cable before the planned privatisation of Ghana Telecom.

He said when this was accomplished it would be possible to establish a backbone carrier, which would provide non-discriminatory open access to all ICT service providers, including broadcasting networks.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said as the existing networks engaged in healthy competition and were trying to reach out to all parts of the country, the Ministry was optimistic that the new policy would make significant impact on the development efforts.

Major John R. K. Tandoh, Acting Director-General of NCA, said the consultative process would focus on assessing the prospects for maintaining and developing effective competition in the country's telecom market, while giving thoughts to investments and innovations. The consultative forum is to also pave the way for the licensing of new entrants to compete in the basic telephony market, which is at present between Ghana Telecom and Westel. 05 Dec. 05

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