Broadband and Communications Chamber welcomes NCA move to ensure equitable 4G playing field

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

Ghana’s Broadband and Communications Chamber (BBCC), an advocacy group for the development and expansion of the broadband industry, has welcomed moves by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to ensure an equitable playing field in the 4G telecom space.

In a statement issued in Accra, the Chief Executive Officer of the Chamber, Gustav Tamakloe, noted with appreciation the regulator’s decision to provide an equitable playing field where all industry players play by the same set of rules thereby ensuring uniformity and fairness.

“We welcome the announcement coming from the Director-General of the NCA, Mr. Joe Anokye, who was speaking at an event organised by the Ghana Chamber of Telecoms on 31st July, 2018, with the understanding that ensuring equitable playing field means that all players in the industry play by the same set of rules thereby ensuring uniformity and fairness,” it stated.

According to Mr. Tamakloe, the Broadband Chamber is ever ready to engage the NCA and other stakeholders in ironing out disparities in the 4G/LTE space which has led to the current unfair playing field, particularly an array of issues having to do with the pricing, licensing regimes and localisation.

The Chamber however expressed regret over comments made by Communications Ministry with respect to the government position on maintaining the cost of the 4G/LTE spectrum at $67.5 million, and further described the current pricing policy as unfortunate which if care is not taken could limit the achievement of financial inclusion, gender equity and Universal Broadband Access.

“It is however confusing to note a most recent comment by the Ministry of Communications reaffirming its position to maintain the cost of the 4G/LTE spectrum at $67.5 million – with the Deputy Communications Minister, Mr. George Andah speaking at the launch of the Africa Regional Development Forum on the 18th of July, 2018 stated that not much can be done about the price of the spectrum. This current pricing policy is unfortunate and goes only to limit the numerous benefits including better healthcare, education and simply making it harder to eradicate poverty and the achievement of financial inclusion, gender equity and Universal Broadband Access,” it noted.

Quoting the Global System for Mobile Communications Association (GSMA) Report on ‘Spectrum Pricing in Developing Countries’, released at the Mobile 360 – Africa conference held in Kigali  which states that “Better spectrum pricing policies are needed in developing countries to improve the economic and social welfare of the billions of people that remain unconnected to mobile broadband services”, the  Broadband Chamber believes that the government can do a lot in not only ensuring an equitable playing field but also enact additional policies that can increase local participation in the Broadband industry.

The statement also recalled with emphasis the Vice President of Ghana, Alhaji Mahamudu Bawumia’s keynote address at the Ten Year Anniversary Dinner of Vodafone Ghana on 18th July, 2018, where he stated emphatically that Government will do everything possible to ensure Vodafone is able to deploy 4G spectrum for the benefit of its customers and Ghanaians.

“The Chamber would like to call on Government to do “Everything Possible” to increase Local Participation in the Broadband industry. Again the Chamber applauds MTN Ghana’s ongoing initial public offering (IPO) for Ghanaians to own 35 per cent of the company’s shares as part of its localization program. The Broadband Chamber looks forward to NCA’s announcement in earnest with the hope of arriving at the much-needed clarity, understanding, transparent and globally sound practices for the broadband industry,” it added.

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