Ursula defends Kelni GVG contract in Parliament

BY: Graphic.com.gh

The Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has briefed Parliament on the US$89 million contract awarded to Kelni GVG to deal with revenue losses and simbox fraud in the telecommunications sector and insisted the deal was clean.

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

Following the disagreements with some indications that the National Communications Authority (NCA) was against the deal and had led to the resignation of a board member, the NCA released a statement to clarify that the board member's resignation was not related to the contract.

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Parliament therefore invited the Minister to come and brief Members.

On the floor Thursday morning, the Minister, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful had some harsh words for her critics and insisted the deal was going to help the country to save money as compared to an earlier similar deal with Subah and Afriwave.

Juxtaposing the new contract with the old one, she said the current government has saved the country some money.

The Minister said even though Subah was currently in court challenging the termination of their contract and arguing that it was not given the prerequisite three months notice before termination, the ministry will still go along with the new deal and is going to abide by the conclusion of the legal process.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful reiterated that no board member of the NCA has resigned because of the contract and insisted there was no 10-year US$178 million contract but said there was a 5-year US$89 million contract which may be renewed subject to stated conditions being fulfilled, which she added was far better than the US$150 million contract with Subah.

She also clarified that Kelni is not a foreign company as suggested but was a joint venture between a Ghanaian company registered in 1995 with experience in electrical engineering, IT solutions and systems in addition to other business interest and GVG which has 20 years experience in telecoms revenue assurance.

“it is pertinent to note that while the NCA was not a party to the Subah contract, which was between Subah and the GRA [Ghana Revenue Authority], it was bound to use their services even where it does not need or require it and was obliged to pay for it.”

“Mr Speaker, without independent comparison of the call data with data actually gathered from the monitoring of traffic in real time, it is impossible to ensure the accuracy of declared traffic volumes.”

“Until now. there has not been any real time capturing of traffic volumes either by GVG, Subah or Afriwave Ghana Limited.”

She added: “Since traffic was never monitored in real time, these companies collected the data from same servers as the NCA verification tool, and so inevitably the massive traffic data collated by the NCA from the network operators for free was substantially the same as the data presented by Subah and Afriwave for which the latter companies were paid approximately US2.8 million a month.

“Mr Speaker, we were in effect paying for no work done, the situation the NPP government inherited and clearly could not continue," the Minister added.