Thursday, January 29, 2009

New Regime May Review Ghana Telecom Sale to Vodafone

The Minister designate for Communications in the new Ghanaian government, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu has hinted that his ministry would review the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone International.

He said though he would have to contact the Presidency for approval before his Ministry would embark on such a move, he was hopeful that the government would support the idea.

Speaking in an interview with The Chronicle in Accra yesterday, Mr. Iddrisu said the review was not meant to revoke the Sale and Purchase agreement that Vodafone International signed with the government of Ghana, but to ascertain whether the contract was a genuine one.

"My brother, I am not saying that we are going to take the deal from them but we are going to make sure that Ghanaians get value for their money," he reiterated. He was emphatic that government was going to evaluate and review most of such transactions that were executed by the former government.

The National Democratic Congress (NDC), while they were in opposition did not approve the $900 million Vodafone deal in Parliament, on the grounds that though they were not against the sale, the “secrecy” under which government was going about the process raises suspicions, and that some procedures did not conform to the Public Procurement Act.

The NDC questioned the basis upon which government decided to choose Vodafone Plc UK, as the sole investor to acquire majority shares in GT, while they were not part of the companies which showed interest in the deal. The Minority questioned the basis by which government exclusively negotiated with only Vodafone PIc UK, without considering other bidders who were likely to offer higher bids than Vodafone, and address the socio-economic needs of the country.

Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, the then flag-bearer of the NDC, who also joined the agitators who called for a transparent and better deal to dispose of GT to foreign interest, was or the view that the then government created a false impression about the opposition’s protest against the sale of GT.

The transaction was characterized by vigorous protests
The Minister designate for Communications, who was at the fore front for the demand of transparency in the sale of GT, told the paper that among his priorities as a Minister would be the setting up of a National Information Technology Council, to serve as an advisory body for the Ministry of Communications on Information Technology (IT).

He, said it was his plan to all citizens of Ghana, including the rural folks beneficiaries of IT.

Mr. Iddrisu indicated that there would be a lot of experts in the area of information technology, who would assist the Council to impact their knowledge for the growth of IT.

Touching on some of the reforms he intends to bring to the telecommunication industry; he gave the assurance that monies paid by Ghanaians would be worth the services rendered by the communications industry.

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