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While AFAG has and will continue to criticize government to show earnest commitment to the development of our ailing economy, we, as a matter of principle since 2009, has and will remain critical of the telecommunication service providers until when the interest of Ghanaian consumers take center stage to overt profit making.
AFAG commend the combined efforts of the CID, SUBAH and the NCA for this superb drive at nipping in the bud, the canker of sim box fraud, depriving the state of huge revenue. This initiative is laudable and must be sustained to curb this phenomenon to a zero tolerance threshold.
The question of interest is how these SIM box fraudsters can be in possession of 25 000 SIM cards without a closer working relationship with a telcos. Over the years we have observed with keen interest, the lack of transparency in the telecommunication industry.
These companies operate as a cartel in Ghana. In the west and elsewhere, voice calls and data are subscribed cheaply on monthly basis with free data and other services. However in Ghana, over 15 years of the liberalization of the telecom market, consumers are fraught with costly call rates and less marketing innovation with high levels of marginalization.
AFAG is surprised that, except for one telcos, the remaining operators declare loss of profit annually. This is surreal, considering that they remain significantly in business. Besides, What we see is interconnectivity challenges, and a torrent of complaints ranging from poor network quality, expensive bundled data, to extortion of subscribers purchasing call cards from vendors.
It is now a common experience among the public whenever airtime is loaded on the phone, after a few calls or using the data, one's credit runs out at a rate comparable to the speed of light. This particular occurrence is now an albatross around the neck of mobile phone users in Ghana. Exploitation at its peak!! This development makes consumers vulnerable and AFAG more critical of telcos.
The question therefore arises as to why our telcos are giving a raw deal to Ghanaian consumers.
- Is it a case that the ignorant Ghanaian without access to information can be overtly ripped off?
- Is it a case that the Ghanaian for that matter the African do not deserve a better deal?
- Are Ghanaian markets supposed to be high yielding grounds for profits hence the inability for us to experience the diversity in competition?
- Is government in bed with the telcos to marginalize Ghanaians?
- Is the keeping of interconnectivity gateway by telcos preventing more telecom operators to enter and penetrate the market to bring innovation and more meaning to competition?
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AFAG is at sea as to why the authorities regulating telecommunication operators in this country are not addressing this canker. It makes common sense that telcos are into business to make profit. However, it is unacceptable for workers, students, businesses, organizations, industries and every subscriber to remain continually exploited. More so, when Ghanaians have come to accept telecom services as an essential consumption.
AFAG is pressing for a greater transparency and the devolution of some powers from the telcos to an independent regulator well supervised by the NCA. If interconnectivity is devolved to an independent regulator, it will reduce waste, allow for new entry and in the long term, lower call rates as pertains in Nigeria.
Dr. Nana Ayew Afriyie
Davis Opoku Ansah
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