AFAG Roots For Telco Clearing House

Pressure group, Alliance for Accountable Governance (AFAG), has declared support for government’s quest to introduce an Interconnection Clearing House (ICH) to monitor the operations of telecommunications companies in the country.

The group is currently worried about what they described as ‘the posturing’ of telecommunications companies when it comes to the issue of revenue monitoring, transparency and accountability.

There has been public outcry against the attempt to impose a government-controlled clearing house on all telecom service providers, with the Member of Parliament for Obuasi West, Kwaku Kwarteng, sending the matter to court.

Hearing is yet to be opened in the case involving the National Communications Authority (NCA) and all the telecom companies.

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications, chaired by Albert Abongo, MP for Bongo, has called for wider consultations before a final decision is taken as the telcos are against the move to impose a clearing house, Afriwave, owned by David Opoku, on them.

The company is said have no known track record in the telecom industry.

Speculations are rife that it is hiding under a Chinese company, Huawei, to grab the job.

However, AFAG believes the mobile service providers have no basis to dictate to the state when it comes to such issues.

At a press conference in Accra yesterday, AFAG’s Director of Operations, Abu Ramadan, indicated that of all the mobile phone operators in the country, only one ’[has] so far declared profit to warrant taxation’ and that ‘all other telcos over the years have never declared profit to warrant taxation’ yet they have not been liquidated.

According to him, ‘this magical phenomenon of deliberately evading taxes is worsened by what appears to be the collaboration of telcos and some individuals to illegally terminate calls through SIM boxing.’

In all these circumstances, he claimed, ’a great deal of revenue is lost to the state’. He wondered who monitors the telcos to see if their revenue declared is the true position, especially when some of them complain of losing revenue through SIM boxing.

SIM boxing is a setup in which fraudsters install SIM boxes with multiple lowcost prepaid SIM cards.

The fraudster can then terminate international calls through local phone numbers in the respective country to make it appear as if the call is a local call.

AFAG said they are not surprised at attempts by the telcos to frustrate the introduction and successful operations of an ICH in Ghana.

They are therefore pushing for an ICH that would monitor instant call records on operator sites.

This, according to the group, would prevent telcos from under declaring revenue.

Apart from that, they believe it would also ensure total disclosure of revenues automatically.

Leadership of the group has therefore urged government to ensure extensive consultation and harmonisation with stakeholders to the mutual benefit of all actors.

‘There should be extensive consultation to address the legitimate concerns of all actors in the sector,’ AFAG said.

BY Charles Takyi-Boadu

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