Court orders Communications Ministry to make Kelni GVG contract available

BY: Emmanuel Ebo Hawkson

The Human Rights Division of the Accra High Court has ordered the minister of communications to release the telecommunications sector revenue monitoring contract, awarded to Kelni GVG Limited, to three plaintiffs who have filed a suit seeking to annul the contract.

At Tuesday’s hearing, the court ordered the minister to hand over the contract to the three plaintiffs - John Ato Bonful, Nana Ama Adom-Boakye Kanyi and Citizen Ghana Movement on or before July 9, 2018.

The three individuals went to court to annul the $89 million contract on the basis that it violated the Public Financial Management Act, 2016 (Act 921), and was, therefore, illegal.

As part of their case, their lawyers filed an application seeking access to the contract and its associated relevant documents on the basis that it was their right to be given such documents to facilitate their case.

The court ordered the release of the contract after the respondent ( The Minister of Communications, through the Attorney-General’s Department) indicated its willingness to hand over the contract to the plaintiffs.


Click to read the reliefs being sought by the applicants

Present in court was the Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr George Andah, who informed the court that the ministry could make the contract available within four to seven days.

It was based on the information provided by the deputy minister that the court gave the July 9, 2018 deadline for the release of the contract.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice Anthony Yeboah, a justice of the Court of Appeal with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, however, dismissed the plaintiffs’ request for relevant documents associated with the contract.

According to the presiding judge, the plaintiffs should have specified the exact relevant documents that they needed.

Interlocutory application

Meanwhile, the court will on July 5, 2018, rule on an interlocutory application filed by two other individuals which seeks to restrain the Ministry of Communications, Kelni GVG and other interested parties from implementing and operationalising the contract.

The two individuals – Ms Sarah Owen Asafu-Adjaye and Mr Maximus Ametorgoh-- want the court to halt the implementation of the contract until the final determination of their substantive suit.

In their substantive case, they argued that the implementation of the contract would allow KVG access to their private data, which was an affront to their fundamental human right to privacy.

Controversy

The $89m contract will allow Kelni GVG to operate a common platform that includes the National Communications Authority (NCA) and the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) by connecting the entire switch of the physical network nodes of the telecommunication operators in the country.

The programme is expected to improve revenue mobilisation for the government and also check simbox fraud in the telecommunications sector.

But the contract has become a subject of controversy between policy think tank, IMANI Africa, and the Ministry of Communications.

The President of IMANI Africa, Mr Franklin Cudjoe, has in several media engagements, stressed that the $89 million contract was a careless duplication of jobs and a needless drain on the country’s scarce resources.

He insisted that Subah and Afriwave were awarded similar contracts under the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration to perform similar jobs, even though both contracts were needless.

The Minority in Parliament has also criticised the contract, describing it as a waste of money.

The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has however, defended the contract, explaining that it would effectively deal with revenue losses in the telecommunication industry and also check simbox fraud.
According to her, the contract also had greater value for money as compared to previous contracts.

Writer’s email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.