General News Tue, 31 Oct 2000

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Government investigating telecom problems

Government is investigating complaints by some telecommunication users and operators concerning issues of connectivity and conflict of interest with a view to addressing the anxieties of all parties.

It also recognises the difficult situations confronting the National Communications Authority (NCA) and efforts are under way to give it its full complement of staff to make it perform better as an effective regulator.

Mr Harry Sawyerr, a member of the Council of State, said these on Tuesday while launching DART Communications Systems Company Limited in Accra on Tuesday.

The company also launched a unique electronic cash card that allows users to make purchases without having to go to their banks to load cash onto them. Clients can make purchases once they have money in their accounts.

Mr Sawyerr said the apparent limitation in capacity of the NCA is definitely not a license for indulgence in criminal activities as some operators are known to be doing.

Recent complaints by some telecommunications users on the one hand, and those from operators about what has been described as avoidable problems on the other hand, seem to be setting the two bodies on a collision course.

A host of independent mobile and landline telephone operators have initiated court action for redress.

Mr Sawyerr said "government is aware of the existence of a group of unlicensed operators who land very large volumes of international voice traffic on internet facilities and illegally send this into the public network as local calls.

He warned such persons to desist from the practice since it deprives the nation of huge sums of amounts of foreign exchange that would have gone into further improvement of the national telecom network.

He said it is government policy to engender competition in the industry by licensing multiple operators, the benefits of which is expected to yield lower prices and improved quality of services for the people.

"This will not be sacrificed under any circumstances to any coalition or monopolistic tendencies," Mr Sawyerr warned.

He said the information and communication technology sector is a priority sector for attention and that its development would be encouraged to open up new possibilities that will make Ghana the 'Silicon Valley' of West Africa.

Mr Sawyerr said government is seeking total inter-connectivity within the sub-region through its participation in the SAT 3/WASC and Africa One Submarine project, making Ghana a landing site that will move the Gateway Programme further.

Mr Richard Darko, a director of the company, giving an outline of the operations of the electronic card, said it is unique because it works in on-line real time, has shared infrastructure with banks and remote ATM sites.

He said inter-bank relations run on a dedicated switch to which all the banks as well as the central bank are connected.

The card enables fast and extremely secure links while allowing clearing and funds transmission electronically.

Mr Rufus Andrew, another director of the company, said DART Communications' business is to enable the banking industry to move to higher levels of industry transformation using information technologies optimally.

"The advantage here is that, within the banking industry in Africa, as compared to other western counterparts, there is not much legacy system that holds it back from progressing at a rapid rate.

It therefore can leapfrog and quickly position itself to be at the forefront of modern day banking through advanced technologies," Mr Andrews said.

He said Africa must take advantage of the information technology revolution of this century.

"But it is up to us Africans to take the lead to ensure that this happens, especially after being left out of the agricultural and industrial revolutions."

Source: GNA

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