Broadband Chamber pushes for fairness and regulatory uniformity in Ghana’s Broadband Industry
By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
Ghana’s Broadband Industry Group, the Broadband Communication Chamber (BBCC), is calling on the country’s telecommunications regulator, NCA, to act fairly with players in the broadband industry. The group is also asking that the National Communication Authority pushes for more regulatory uniformity in conformity with the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development and the government’s strategy of rapid broadband penetration and development.
Under the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, policymakers, the private sector and other partners are suppose to make deployment of broadband infrastructure a top priority in their strategies to accelerate global development and progress towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
But unfortunately the situation in Ghana’s Broadband industry seems not to come anywhere closer to that of the UN Broadband commission agenda, due to lack of uniformity and fairness within the industry presided over by the regulator. Most Industry observers have blamed the National Communications Authority (NCA) for doing little to ensure transparency, fairness and uniformity especially within the country’s broadband sector.
Some have mentioned how the regulator sold off its 800 MHz spectrum (4G License) to telecom giant MTN for a whooping USD$67.5 million, after selling 2600MHz spectrum also 4G at the USD$6 million each to Surfline, Blue and Goldkey Communications. It then became even more confusing to industry players when the same regulator (NCA) moves in to charge an amount as lower as USD$200,000 from Busy and Telesol not for a license fee, but an authorization fee to operator 4G services in the country.
What also came as a shock to industry players especially the Broadband Chamber and observers was how the NCA had approved the Tigo and Airtel merger within just seven months without any hesitation whilst partnership proposals between MTN and Goldkey, Surfline and Vodafone Ghana have been put on hold.
The Chamber said this regrettable development within the country’s broadband space had raised questions about the government’s commitment towards making internet accessible and affordable for millions of Ghanaians since broadband is a critical part of any national economic and social development agenda which will drive economic growth, productivity and job creation.
With Broadband infrastructure, delivery of voice, video and data at ultra-high speed yields numerous benefits including productivity improvement, better health and education services and efficient government services.
The Chief Executive Officer for the Broadband Communication Chamber, Gustav Tamakloe, in a statement copied to Biztechafrica confirms the disparities within the space and emphasized that such situations present a gloomy picture to investors.
“Currently, there remains a great deal of uncertainty in the Ghanaian broadband industry. Investors are focused on what they see in an industry especially in relation to regulatory uniformity and fairness. If this uncertainty persists, the Ghanaian broadband industry shall not be seen as attractive to investors. It goes without saying that it is important for the regulator to help us all see the clarity in regulation in order to ensure sustainable investments,” he said.
The BBCC CEO asked the government to focus its efforts on achieving regulatory uniformity and fairness to ensure that the industry and its members will not be unduly burdened by uncertainty in regulatory frameworks, which may limit the interests of investors in the sector.
The Broadband Communications Chamber (BBCC) then urged the NCA also to make available regulatory frameworks in areas that will reduce and eliminate as much as possible barriers and obstacles which impede standardization, uniformity and fairness in order to enhance growth and competitiveness in the industry.
The group further believes that such clear-cut frameworks will provide the industry greater access to the much needed investment for the rapid expansion of broadband particularly to underserved and unserved areas of the country.
“BBCC looks forward to improved clarity, understanding, transparency and globally sound practices for the broadband industry as a means of ensuring sustainable socio-economic growth and development in Ghana,” it added.