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Business News Fri, 10 Jan 2003

400,000 fixed telephone lines in three years

Four hundred thousand (400,000) new fixed telephone lines would be provided across the country in the next three years under a new five-year Management Service Agreement (MSA) between Ghana Telecom (GT) and Telecom Norway (Telenor).

Hon. Felix Owusu Adjapong, Minister of Communication and Technology announced this in Accra on Thursday when the new board of directors of GT called on him at his office.

"Within the same period, the staff level of GT would increase from the current 3,900 to 6,000 meaning 2,100 new jobs would be created under the agreement," he said.

He said after three months of deliberation between GT and the ministry on one side and Telenor on the other, a mutually satisfactory MSA was officially signed last week, under which Telenor would play the role of management consultants and financiers of a business plan for GT.

The new MSA, he said, enjoins Telenor to provide 400,000 fixed lines within a maximum of three years, adding that they are also to improve quality of service and reduce customer inconvenience.

Mr. Adjapong said government would also expect GT under Telenor to champion fair competition in the cellular phone market with the view to providing affordable quality service.

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"We as government have satisfied ourselves that this is the best deal we can get for this country and we pledge to offer our support to the new management in everyway possible for the ultimate benefit of our people," he said.

He cautioned the new management to take note that they are solely responsible for the realisation of the goals of the new MSA, adding that it was important for them to allow the recent history of GT to inform their decisions and operations.

The Minister said that Telenor would be expected to treat Ghana like any other country in the world and therefore use quality equipment and materials in installing facilities and in providing service.

Adjapong said government would closely monitor the activities of Telenor on annual basis to ensure that they were on track throughout the period, adding that they would be expected to provide annual operational and financial reports to keep the government and the people informed.

He said in due course, government would fully acquire 100 percent shares of GT when the defunct management, Telekom Malaysia are completely out of the picture.

"When the time comes, shares would be floated for all interested Ghanaians to acquire shares in GT and Telenor would also be allowed to acquire shares if they so wish,” adding that "GT is a limited liability company and government would ensure that it remained so at all cost."

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Oystein Bjorge, Vice President of Telenor assured the Minister that Telenor would make lay their expertise and funds to meet their capacity improvement obligation within the given period.

He said Telenor plans to increase the staff capacity of GT, adding however that there was no guarantee of job security for any of the current employees as job security would be based strictly on one's performance.

"Increase in capacity and volume means increase in labour strength but only those who would perform would maintain their jobs - non-performance would not be countenanced at all," he said.

Nana Antwi Boasiako, Chairman of the GT board of directors assured the investors of the board’s non-interference in the day-to-day operations and of its support for the achievement of the new MSA goals.

"We would ensure that corporate governance procedures are firmly in place and in the ultimate customer satisfaction is ensured," he said.

Source: gna
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