Minority spokesperson on Communications, Alhaji A.B.A. Fuseini, has called for an independent probe into the controversial $178 million contract signed between the Ministry of Communications and Kelni-GVG.
He stated: “We are talking about a situation where we are paying money for the invention of a common platform which is the responsibility of the Ministries of Communication and Finance. Mr Speaker, they are reneging on their responsibilities and rather going to sign a contract that will impose exorbitant cost on this country while these services could be attained free of charge just as the Minister has just said that these are things that you can attain free of charge.
“How [then], do we pay as of today, $7.5 million to attain a service that you have indicated we can get free of charge? So, Mr Speaker, what is the rationale? I want this House to look at this matter in the context that Mr Speaker, this is of a very important matter that touches on the supreme interest of this country and Mr Speaker, to call for an independent inquiry to ensure that under the Communications Committee, some public hearing will be given to this matter to ensure that these many unanswered questions, including Mr Speaker, the credibility of Kelni-GVG will be dealt with,” he asked.
The Member of Parliament (MP) for Sagnarigu was reacting to a presentation by Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, who defended the contract on the floor of Parliament, indicating that it was the “best” the country could get.
The minister was summoned to appear before Parliament to brief legislators on the contract which many bodies such as Imani Africa have criticised as not good for the country.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful painstakingly took her time to explain to the House on Thursday that: “This is not a duplication of any existing contract. No other system or company is currently providing this service. The mobile money interoperability platform of GhIPPS monitors transactions between two or more telcos and the banks but does not monitor transactions on one network. The CMP does so.”
In reaction to another allegation that per the Kelni-GVG deal signed in December 2017, the Government of Ghana had been and would continue to dole out a monthly payment of $1.5 million to the firm over a five-year period, beginning 30 days after execution of the contract, she said: “We are not paying for no work done.”
The MP for Ablekuma West explained that: “Neither the NCA nor the GRA currently has the capability of providing this service and have indicated so. The CMP will provide real-time monitoring of all traffic volumes on all networks as has never happened before; it is currently conducting anti-fraud testing as envisaged; the Network Operations Centre has been set up, connected and equipped with hardware and software. Everything is ready for all operators to be connected and they were notified on May 11, 2018. They have one month from this date to connect, failing which the requisite sanctions will be applied in accordance with the law; training of NCA/GRA personnel is ongoing. A team just returned from training in Spain. All deliverables and timelines under the contract have been met to date.”
Touching on reports that a board member of the NCA had resigned over the issue, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said: “No NCA Board Member has resigned because of this contract.”
She further clarified that: “There is no 10-year contract worth $178 million. There is a five-year $89 million contract which may be renewed subject to stated conditions being fulfilled. This is far better than the $150 million plus we paid for the past five years for very little value.”
She also noted that Kelni-GVG is not a foreign company. “It is a joint venture between a Ghanaian company registered in 1995 with experience in Electrical Engineering, IT solutions and systems in addition to other business interests, and Kelni-GVG which has 20 years’ experience in telecoms revenue assurance and IT solutions. They do have a website and their office is at Labone, not Osu or Kokomlemle.”
The lawmaker continued that there was an exit clause in the agreement if Kelni-GVG were in material breach of their obligations under the contract and their performance was deemed unsatisfactory.
She stressed: “There have been absolutely no corruption or underhand dealings in this transaction. I can never be party to any such conduct as I value my reputation and the reputation of the government which serves the good people of Ghana. I stand here as a Minister of the Akufo-Addo administration to assure this august house that I believe this is the best deal we could have got.”