Ministers to meet over fate of ICH

April 5, 2017
Source: Richard Annerquaye Abbey/thebftonline.com/Ghana
Ministers to meet over fate of ICH

The Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu Erkuful, has said she will be meeting the Finance Minister to sort out the “confusion” between Afriwave and Subah Infosolutions regarding which of the companies has the responsibility of conducting revenue assurance for the state in the telecoms sector.

Although Afriwave Telecom, last year, won the National Communications Authority (NCA) contract to provide interconnect clearing services to the telecom sector, the law backing the establishment of the interconnect clearing house barred them from undertaking revenue assurance.

Revenue assurance, which falls under the domain of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), was given to Subah Infosolutions, which had previously failed to win the deal to build the interconnect clearing house.

Nevertheless, Afriwave Telecom is on record to have proceeded to conduct revenue assurance with a justification that the law barred it only from conducting “tax revenue assurance” and not revenue assurance in general, as stated in the amended Electronic Communication Act 2016, which came into force in March 2016.

The contract NCA awarded to Afriwave in August, 2016, shows that the NCA will pay GH¢3.52 million every month to the company for “monthly report on traffic volumes and revenues.”

Per the Afriwave contract, the NCA would pay a total of GH¢56.32 million between August 2016 to December 2017, for revenue assurance functions alone, without taking into consideration the other functions of the ICH for which Afriwave is paid separately.

But the Communications Minister, Mrs. Owusu Erkuful, told the B&FT in an interview that the ICH deal in its current form, has challenges, especially regarding whose responsibility it is to handle revenue assurance.

The Ghana Revenue Authority, in December last year, extended its contract with Subah for the monitoring of revenues generated by telecommunication companies in the country to ensure adequate payment of taxes.

A letter dated December 1, 2016 and signed by former Commissioner-General, Ghana Revenue Authority, George Blankson, indicated that former Finance Minister, Seth Terkper, had given his approval to that effect.

But the Communications Minister told the B&FT that these two contracts have a “confusion” that must be sorted out.

“There are some challenges [regarding the implementation of interconnect clearing house] and so I will be meeting with the Minister for Finance, particularly when it comes to revenue assurance, to sort out the confusion between Afriwave and Subah in that space,” the minister said.

“When that is done, the clearing house can focus on its clear objective of interconnecting all the various mobile network operators, value-added service operators, broadband, wireless, international carrier license holders on one platform to make it easier for them to work better.”

The Minister was speaking to the B&FT at the opening of a three-day international workshop on “criminal justice, statistics on cybercrime and electronic evidence”  held in Accra, under the auspices of the GLACY+.     

GLACY+ is a joint project of the European Union and the Council of Europe that provide support to countries worldwide and the implementation of the Convention on cybercrime usually referred to as the Budapest Convention.