Sylvester Tetteh — Deputy Minister of Information
Sylvester Tetteh — Deputy Minister of Information
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Next Gen Infraco deal on 5G spectrum forward-looking — Sylvester Tetteh

The government has defended its decision to give the 5G spectrum to Next Gen Infraco, describing it as an innovative deal that was well thought through.

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It indicated that the deal was forward-looking and strategic and would go a long way to benefit the entire country. The Deputy Minister of Information, Sylvester Tetteh, in an interview with the Daily Graphic yesterday explained  that "if you are having a 5G penetration of 50 per cent in your country, you are on a super highway of technology inclusion and development for your nation".

He said Ghanaians should, therefore, rally behind the government and embrace it as there were no underhanded dealings involved.

Reaction

Mr Tetteh, who is also the Member of Parliament for Bortianor-Ngleshie-Amanfro, was reacting to the Minority's statement that, among other things, said the government's decision to give the 5G broadband Next Gen Infraco was inimical to the national interest.

It described the transaction as opaque and that it was inimical because there was a lack of value for money and that its conservative analysis showed that the state could have generated between $400 and $500 million upfront if the government had opted for a more competitive process.

But Mr Tetteh noted that the Minority's position was most unfortunate as he (Tetteh) knew for a fact that it (Minority) was well versed in the issues happening except for political expediency and electioneering.

He said one would have thought that the transaction was the safest deal the country had engaged in and "I think that instead of them applauding the President, and for that matter the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, for undertaking such an important national exercise, they said the transaction was opaque".

That, the deputy minister said meant that the minority was either being mischievous or did not understand the transaction. "First of all, this is not an auction that would call for tender, they must know that the executive approval given is not meant for sale,” he said.

Not for sale

Mr Tetteh emphasised that the 5G spectrum had not been put on sale and that what had occasioned the decision by the government was quite simple. "The 5G spectrum is not meant for sale so when you are expecting sales then you would be looking for tender, you would be looking at competitiveness," he said.

He explained that the country had had 2G, 3G and 4G and that "what has been the experience of Ghana having to auction our second, third and fourth generations?"

Benefit

Mr Tetteh said having sold 4G for nine years, the country had only 15 per cent penetration. "The one who bought the 4G and has been the sole proprietor of it and has given us 15 per cent access is now quoting to the government that it would buy the 5G for $250 million.

"What is the guarantee that they can manage the 5G to our overall national agenda for ?," he said. He said the government was guided by the NDC experience of 4G and so decided to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that it would not be sold to one entity to buy but to be owned by all the industry players.

Moreover, he said SPVs did not require a long history of existence. The singular decision by the government, he said, had attracted companies, including Nokia, Tech Mahindra, K-Net, Radisys and mobile network operators.

“So, within six months of rollout, we are going to have 50 per cent penetration as against 15 per cent for nine years," he said. He said the discussion should be on what the 5G rollout would bring to the country rather than taking a lump sum of money.

On the issue of Parliamentary approval, Mr Tetteh asked whether the agreement had committed the government to payment for more than one year as stated by the Public Financial Management Act (Section 33).

He said the legal issue raised would be referred to the legal adviser of the government for an answer on the matter and emphasised that there was no sale that warranted tender.

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