5G internet deal awarded Next Gen Infraco is illegal - Minority in Parliament
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5G internet deal awarded Next Gen Infraco is illegal - Minority in Parliament

The Minority in Parliament has raised concerns about the legality of the 5G deal awarded to Next Gen Infraco by the government.

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According to the Minority, the transaction was being finalised without the knowledge or approval of Parliament.

Last week the government announced that it has taken a significant step towards achieving a fully digitised country by 2030 through a special purpose vehicle licensed to roll out 5G mobile broadband by the end of the year.

Next-Gen Infrastructure Company (NGIC), a new shared infrastructure company, co-promoted by the government and private sector technology solutions entities - Ascend Digital and  K-NET, will make an initial investment of about $200 million into building a nationwide 4G/5G network.  

The NGIC was set up after the government entered into a strategic partnership with the consortium, including Radisys, Nokia and Tech Mahindra, supported by all Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the country.

At the Meet-the-Press series, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said the shared network infrastructure for 5G represented “a strategic move to provide affordable, high-speed mobile broadband services, reduce the digital divide and promote financial inclusion.”

“The creation of NGIC as a neutral, shared platform accessible to all mobile network operators and tower companies will help to expand 5G services rapidly across the country. We are inspired by India's digital infrastructure and low-cost mobile data usage and are keen to replicate it in Ghana,” she said.

Licence requirements

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the “landmark partnership” which was signed in Mumbai, India, on Monday, May 27, this year, was the culmination of a process which started over two years ago.

She explained that NGIC’s equity would be held by the Republic of Ghana, Ascend Digital,  K-NET, all MNOs in the country, and other investors, including the technology providers who may wish to join the consortium.

The minister added that per the 5G licence awarded to NGIC, the entity was expected to launch 5G services across the country within the next six months, with clear plans for future expansion into other parts of Africa.

She also said in line with international best practices, NGIC’s licence would be long term, issued for a period of at least 10 years. Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the initial focus was on building a scalable shared infrastructure in the country, with the potential to expand to other parts of Africa.

She said the NGIC was also targeting to be the first 5G mobile broadband shared infrastructure entity to build a nationwide 4G/5G network. The minister also said the company had plans to launch affordable 4G/5G-enabled Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) and  smartphones within this year.

Touching on the roles of the various entities in the consortium, she said the shared 4G and 5G infrastructure would be built by Nokia and Radisys, while information technology architecture and integration would be provided by Microsoft and Tech Mahindra.

“This collaboration ensures that we leverage cutting-edge world-class expertise and technology to build a robust digital infrastructure,” she said.

Next Gen Infraco’s 5G deal illegal – Minority

However, in a press statement issued on Monday, June 3, 3034, the Minority in Parliament said the 5G spectrum transaction awarded to Next Gen Infraco Limited was a multi-year contract, hence subject to parliamentary approval per section 33 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016 (Act 921).

“Unfortunately, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government is almost concluding this deal at the blindside of Parliament. The renders the entire transaction unlawful, null, void and of no legal effect whatsoever,” they stated.

“Some of the entities in the Consortium, which are the beneficiaries of this opaque transaction, are mushroom entities owned by cronies of President Akufo-Addo and the Minister for Communications, with questionable track records.

“As a matter of fact, some of these entities have been engaged by this same government in similar arrangements that have offered no value for money for the state.”

Attached below is a copy of the full statement by the Minority

NDC MINORITY KICKS AGAINST OPAQUE 5G SPECTRUM DEAL

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The Minority Caucus in Parliament has noted with grave concern the decision by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government to give away Ghana’s 5G spectrum to a shadowy entity, Next Gen InfracoCompany Limited for the next 10 to 15 years.

Under this deal, Next Gen Infraco Limited has been given the exclusive right to build, own and operate the entire 5G infrastructure network across the country, for the use of all mobile network operators, internet service providers and other interested entities.

It is instructive to note that executive approval was granted by President Akufo-Addo for this sweetheart deal on 22nd August 2023, barely one week after the company’s incorporation on 16th August 2023.

This was done through a non-transparent arrangement without any competitive process whatsoever.
After a preliminary study of the processes leading to this opaque transaction, the Minority Caucus takes the view that the Next Gen Infraco 5G deal is inimical to the national interest for the following reasons:

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1. Lack of value for money

Our conservative analysis shows that the State could have generated up to USD400 million to USD$500 million upfront if the government had opted for a more competitive process.
This revenue could have been channelled into critical development projects in this time of economic bankruptcy and excruciating hardships.

Sadly, the corrupt Akufo-Addo/Bawumiagovernment is giving away this important asset for a paltry USD$125million payable in yearly instalments on a work-and-pay basis over the next 10 years.

2. Unfair monopoly and exclusivity.

This opaque ‘work and pay’ 5G agreement will ensure that:

i. NEXT GEN INFRACO would be the ONLY COMPANY to offer wholesale 5G mobile DATA and VOICE services in the country for a period of 10 years.

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ii. All existing Mobile Network Operators (MNOs)-MTN, AT, TELECEL and Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in the country cannot offer DATA and VOICE services to their numerous customers nationwide without passing through NEXT GEN INFRACO.

iii. NEXT GEN INFRACO would control substantial 62.5% of every DATA/VOICE bundle package every mobile user buys, with only 7.5% going to Government and 30% for Mobile Network Operators and Internet Service Providers.

We hold the view that the monopoly and exclusive rights granted Next Gen Infraco under this opaque deal is unfair to other industry players and unacceptable.

3. Absence of Parliamentary Approval

This 5G spectrum transaction awarded to Next Gen Infraco Limited is a multi-year contract, hence subject to parliamentary approval per section 33 of the Public Financial Management Act 2016 (Act 921).

Unfortunately, the Akufo-Addo/Bawumiagovernment is almost concluding this deal at the blindside of Parliament. This renders the entire transaction unlawful, null, void, and of no legal effect whatsoever.

4. Some of the entities in the Consortium, which are the beneficiaries of this opaque transaction, are mushroom entities owned by cronies of President Akufo-Addo and the Minister for Communications, with questionable track-records.

As a matter of fact, some of these entities have been engaged by this same government in similar arrangements that have offered no value for money for the state.

5. The regulatory framework and operational modalities and guidelines for this opaque arrangement have not been clearly defined by the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government, which appears to be in an indecent haste to give away the country’s 5G spectrum for a pittance.

6. The investment that this Consortium is expected to make to justify their humongous 63% stake in Ghana’s 5G network services revenue has also not been clearly defined.

The NDC Caucus in Parliament holds the view, that at a time that the country is in dire need of foreign exchange and non-tax revenue, it is unconscionable that the Akufo-Addo/Bawumia government will hand over the precious and highly sought-after 5G spectrum of the country to a shell company for a pittance.

Clearly, this deal for all intents and purposes is inimical to our national interest.

The NDC Minority Caucus has, therefore, flagged this transaction for eagle-eye scrutiny. In the coming days, we shall be addressing the media and, by extension, the Ghanaian people on these vexedmatters and collaborate with other stakeholders to ensure that our national interest is upheld.

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