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Ghana’s sovereignty mortgaged: The radio spectrum control and warfare (Part I)

Radio Spectrumfile File photo

Tue, 10 Apr 2018 Source: Kofi B. Kukubor


Since parliament ‘approved’ (we do not know whether it was by rectification or ratification) the controversial Ghana/USA military ‘cooperation’, the debates on the benefits of the deal to Ghana have been cacophonic. The substance of the discussion is lost as the average Ghanaian is left to the mercy of partisan interests and confusion.

The President, Nana Akuffo Addo’s attempt to clarify the deal to Ghanaians rather muddied the waters. In his speech, Akuffo Addo believes he has done so much service to Ghanaians that he could not see the reason why Ghanaians would not give him a synchronized style of North Korea standing ovation. Indeed, the critiques of the military deal are hypocrites, traitors, and secret dealers in the USA yet with anti-American populist agenda.

Mr. President, the question as to what are the benefits of the military ‘cooperation’ to Ghanaians, and how Ghana’s sovereignty is guaranteed is still unanswered.I will attempt to serialize the contents of the agreement with the hope of escaping the terrain of extreme partisan mediocrities as epitomized in the President’s speech.

This article focuses on the Radio Spectrum which the agreement gives FULL and UNFETTERED ACCESS to the USA military.

Use of Radio Spectrum

Article 14 of the agreement states that the USA military “shall be allowed to operate its own telecommunication systems (as telecommunication is defined in the 1992 Constitution and Convention of the International Telecommunication Union), and also “the right to use all necessary radio spectrum for this purpose. Use of the radio spectrum shall be free of cost to United States forces.”

Radio Spectrum Simplified

Anytime you hear of "AM radio" and "FM radio," "VHF" and "UHF" television, "community radio," "shortwave radio", etc., you are in a radio wave or in an electromagnetic wave propagated by an antenna. Radio waves have different frequencies and you can only pick up a specific signal when tuned into a specific or assigned frequency.In Ghana, it is the National Communication Authority that is mandated by law to decide who is able to use which frequencies and for which purposes, and it issues licenses to stations for specific frequencies.

Common radio frequency bands include the following: AM radio, Short wave radio, Community band (CB) radio, Television stations, FM radio, Television stations, Garage door openers, alarm systems, Radio controlled CCTV/ security camera, Standard cordless phones, Baby monitors, Radio controlled airplanes, Radio controlled cars, Wildlife tracking collars, MIR space station, Cell phones and New cordless phones, Air traffic control, Global Positioning System (GPS), Marine control system, Wi-fi networks, Bluetooth, Deep space radio communications, Radio controlled mechanized farms, etc.

Now, you will realise that Radio Spectrum controls every aspect of modern day life. That is why countries with a proper sense of security, national safety, and sovereignty, control their Radio Spectrum with high sense of security measures and diligence. The present-day and future warfare is and will be determined by the national military that has superior control over Radio Spectrums. The Radio Spectrum is now a warfare. “The electromagnetic spectrum touches everything we do, and we must make sure [that] use and protection of this spectrum include a whole-of-government and international approach.” (Air Force Maj. Gen. Sandra E. Finan, deputy CIO for C4 and Information Infrastructure and Capabilities a DoD, USA).

Effects On The Defence of Ghana

Communications, navigation, battlefield logistics, precision munitions, etc., depends on complete and unfettered access to radio spectrum. And, it is a territory that must be vigilantly defended from enemy combatants. In international warfare, intelligence and trade, the USA, like any other foreign nation, is an enemy combatant in pursuing national interests.

Having command of electromagnetic waves will allow USA forces to operate drones from a hemisphere away, guide cruise missiles inland from the sea. It will facilitate blocking enemies (including Ghana, depending on USA foreign and military interests at the time) from using the spectrum. This will be critical to hindering the ability of Ghana’s military in defending the country, preventing a takeover and abduction of Ghana’s Presidents as happened in Panama when a ‘useful tool’, General Manuel Antonio Noriega, Commander-in-Chief of the Panama Defense Forces ("PDF") and de facto leader of Panama, on February 4, 1988, was abducted because he ceased to serve American interests. Same applies to other leaders and nations that the USA invaded successfully. They first invade the Radio Spectrum to prevent host nations from communicating and, thereby, rendering them impotent of defending their countries. Again, in Iraq's communication radar, stations were taken over during the early hours of Operation Desert Storm.

This will also give capability to USA military to stage elaborate electronic assaults that could result in nightmare scenarios on the battlefield of Ghana’s military radios that will abruptly fall silent in the thick of combat. The US may very well never engage in a head-to-head shooting war but, the ability to effectively control the radio spectrum is already becoming a new type of arms race: one that is just as volatile as intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM race during the Cold War.

The Exposure of Civilian Privacy To The Manipulation Of US Military

With the full access of Radio Spectrum possible, soldiers known as spectrum managers will create detailed maps of all of Ghana’s electromagnetic activity, and gather intelligence on users. In addition to tracking and recording the emissions of every piece of military hardware, the managers will also compile a list of which frequencies were used by a galaxy of cheap civilian devices. With these data, the USA military can manipulate electronic devices of institutions and civilians, track or set them up for arrest or abduction to illegal prisons (e.g. Guantanamo Bay Prison) in the USA without any necessary or incriminating evidence. This will expose the Ghanaian from his CCTV gates, wifi-mobile handsets and GPS locations to the US Military. Indeed, any radio device could be corrupted and navigation data (electronic election results, etc.) misdirected. And what will be the benefits to Ghana? “Use of the radio spectrum shall be free of cost to United States forces.” Article 14 of the agreement refers. Ghana gains nothing.

The Impotency Of Ghana’s Constitution

Article 3 of the agreement accord diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of April 18, 1961. In other words, any violation, abuse, damage, and used data gathered through the Radio Spectrum is not subject to Ghana's Laws or the primacy of Ghana’s Constitution.

Article 3 of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic clearly defines whose interests are paramount in carrying out diplomatic assignments.

Article (3) (1) (b) protecting in the receiving State (Ghana) the interests of the sending State (USA) and of its nationals, within the limits permitted by international law; and

(d) ascertaining by all lawful means conditions and developments in the receiving State (Ghana) and reporting thereon to the Government of the sending State (USA). In summary, the primary purpose of the military ‘cooperation’ is to protect the interests of USA, not Ghana.

Whatever crime the military personnel and civilian personnel commit in Ghana in carrying out their functions in the interest of USA, the Constitution of Ghana shall be impotent as their acts, actions, commission, and omissions, whether genuine or deliberate, is under the privileges, exemptions, and immunities equivalent to those accorded to the administrative and technical staff of a diplomatic mission. Ghana and citizens of Ghana cannot claim any damages guaranteed by the constitution. Article 15 of the agreement refers.


This agreement violates Article 73 of the constitution as it is not “in a manner consistent with the National interest of Ghana”.The U.S. is noted to have the characteristic of violating the UK charter in pursuing her interests. The desire to label a President or other nations governments as rogue States when US interests are not met makes it difficult to trust US in such agreements. The invasion and abduction of General Noriega of Panama in 1988, and the illegal invasion of Iraq and the abduction and killing of Sadam Hussein and many more are clear evidence of US disrespect and violation of the UN Charter on the sovereignty of Nations.

The Ghana/USA military cooperation does not only violate the engineering, regulatory, economic, legal, and management policy power of Ghana, but it is also a rape of Ghana’s sovereignty.

Mr. President, now I put it to you. Who is ‘traitoring’ the sovereignty of Ghana? As I wait for the answer, I shall adjourn this article to the forenoon of Part II.


The author is a Governance and Policy Analyst

Columnist: Kofi B. Kukubor