Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Glo Mobile Blames Environment Body for Delay in Ghana Roll-out

Ghana's newest mobile network operator, Glo Mobile has complained that it is suffering problems in rolling out its network due to delays in securing permission from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to install its towers.

Glo Mobile is owned by Nigeria's Globalcom and was awarded a GSM operator license last June.

Mr Idowu Olumodeji, Head of Technical-Rollout at Glo, told the Ghana News Agency that the company had had to push back deadlines several times because the EPA had not issued permits for masts. He noted that to date Glo Mobile had submitted over 500 applications for permits to mount masts and other infrastructure in most of the regional capitals, but EPA was yet to issue a single permit.

Mr Olumodeji, who sounded frustrated, said Glo had asked EPA not to wait for all the applications to be complete but to issue permits for those which were complete but the EPA had not been co-operative on that either.

Mr Olumodeji said Glo had millions of dollars worth of equipment sitting at its warehouse waiting to be deployed - as soon as the EPA issues the permits.

For its part, the EPA has only just completed a draft document on the rules for installing base station towers in the country. The document, seen by the GNA calls for more use of co-location on towers to curb their spread - and will ask the telecoms regulator to make co-location mandatory where viable.

“The telecom operators are quick to blame the permit agencies like EPA for the poor quality service. Meanwhile they have not been able to take a single action on co-location since they started discussions on it years now,” said Mr Ebenezer K. Appiah-Sampong, Director of Environmental Assessment and Auditor of the EPA.

The country already has five operators, and according to figures from the Mobile World database, the country had 11.3 million customers at the end of last year. That figure equates to a population penetration level of just 48%.

The five operators (and market share) are: MTN (57%), Tigo (25.7%), Ghana Telecom (14.4%), Kasapa Telecom (2.8%) & Westel that was acquired by Zain (2.4%)

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