Communication Minister defends GVG Kelni Records in Parliament
By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has told parliament that GVG Kelni is a legitimate local private company with the necessary technical capacity to assist government safeguard its revenues that ought to accrue to the state.
Speaking before the august house over the weekend in Accra, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful revealed that as far back as 2009, National Security conducted extensive due diligence on GVG Kelni and confirmed the credibility and technical capacity of the company in writing (NSCS40/V.10/1231 of 28th April, 2009).
According to her, GVG Kelni is not a foreign company as suggested, but rather it’s a joint venture between a Ghanaian company registered in 1995 with experience in Electrical Engineering, IT Solutions and System in addition to other business interest.
The Minister ‘s comment on the floor of parliament was in direct response to accusations brought against GVG Kelni by the President of IMANI Africa, Franklin Cudjoe.
Mr. Cudjoe had earlier questioned the legitimacy and technical expertise of GVG Kelni in Africa's telecom space, where most of its operations has either been terminated or facing legal suit. He also accused the telecom company for not having a good professional website and a local office in Ghana.
But in her address to members of parliament, the Communications Minister was emphatic that GVG Kelni does have a website and a local office which is currently located in Labone, a surburb of Accra.
She further acknowledged some of the operational challenges faced by GVG Kelni in some parts of Africa but was quick to point to some of the monumental IT projects been undertaken by GVG Kelni in Rwanda and Uganda.
“Several Telcoms companies operating in Ghana have been fined and faced challenges in some countries they operate in. That doesn’t make them fraudulent or disreputable companies. GVG has also experienced some issues. They currently operate in Rwanda and Uganda among other countries and have been selected to establish the roaming and traffic exchange platform across Africa. This is the Africa Regional Traffic Exchange and Financial Settlement (ARTEF) platform being implemented by the Smart Africa Initiative to harmonise call tariffs within network countries and promote the routing of inbound and outbound telecoms traffic locally on the continent, bypassing the international traffic wholesalers and reducing call charges. As stated by the Smart Africa Executive Director Dr. Hamadoun Toure, “By keeping Africa’s traffic in Africa, the ARTEF will enhance the affordability and security of communications across the continent while cutting the costs operators incur to interconnect and carry voice, SMS and later data and financial services traffic among African countries. This is the company that we are so busy vilifying here,” she added.
Madam Owusu-Ekuful then refuted the 10 years contract worth $178 million churn out by her accusers and noted that the $89 million contract deal with GVG Kelni is for a period of only 5 years.
“There is no 10 year contract worth $178m. There is a 5 year $89m contract which may be renewed subject to stated conditions being fulfilled. This is far better than the $150m plus we paid for the past 5 years for very little value,” she stressed.