Graphic Online

Graphic Online 

Telcos yet to connect to Kelni GVG platform

BY: Charles Benoni Okine
Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful
Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Mobile network operators (MNOs) are yet to comply with the ultimatum given to them by the Ministry of Communications to connect physically to a common platform (CMP) meant to independently monitor their international and domestic voice and data traffic volumes, revenue and mobile money transactions.

The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, while briefing Parliament a couple of weeks ago on a contract awarded to Kelni GVG, a private company, to monitor call traffic, had said that the deadline for final connection was June 11, 2018.

Failure or refusal by the MNOs to do so, according to the minister, would result in the imposition of specified sanctions.

However, as of the time of going to press yesterday, information reaching the Daily Graphic clearly indicated that none of the telcos had complied with the directive.

A Deputy Minister of Communications, Mr George Andah, when contacted via phone on Monday, said: “The deadline is today and so let us wait until the period has passed.”

He would not comment on whether any of the telcos had complied with the directive or not, except to say that the National Communications Authority (NCA), which is the implementing agency, would be the right entity to comment on whether or not any of the MNOs had complied.


Telecoms chamber

Meanwhile, a highly placed source at the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications said since the announcement of Kelni GVG as the company to operate the real-time monitoring platform, many suits had been slapped on the contract from varied angles, including the security of the data of telecom subscribers.

According to the source, that development had made it difficult for the telcos to ascertain the way forward.

It, however, did not say whether any of the members had met the deadline, except that the chamber was committed to the process so long as the privacy of the data of customers were fully guaranteed.

The source said the suits were many and confusing and that as law-abiding companies, the telcos needed to be sure of what they were doing to prevent a situation where they could be slapped with contempt suits.

Opposition to contract

A policy think tank, IMANI Africa, and other civil society organisations have waged a relentless crusade against the $179-million Kelni GVG contract, describing it as needless and overpriced.

The opposers claim that the government did not do any value for money audit before awarding the contract, with the hope of exposing telecom operators which it suspected to be unfaithful with the traffic and revenue figures.

But Mrs Owusu-Ekuful has defended the contract with Kelni GVG, arguing forcefully that it was in compliance with the Communication Service (Amendment) Act passed in 2013.

In order to enforce the monitoring regime, a new law, the Communication Service Tax Amendment Act was passed in 2013.

The law, among other things, is to “establish a monitoring mechanism to verify the actual revenue that accrues to vendors for the purpose of computing taxes due the government under this act and be given physical access to the physical network nodes of the vendors' network at an equivalent point in the network where the network providers' billing systems are connected”.