Ghana’s telecoms regulator the National Communications Authority (NCA) has announced new measures designed to speed up the pace of competition in the country’s telecoms industry. The core of the new initiative is a plan to divide the country into five operating ‘zones’ to allow new operators to compete at a regional level with the two national PTOs, Ghana Telecom (GT) and Western Telesystems (WESTEL). GT presided over 332,000 fixed lines in service at the end of 2005, compared with just 2,768 for WESTEL which has been largely dormant since receiving its concession more than five years ago.
The NCA says it has pre-qualified five companies for the new licences, each of which will now be required to present a fully comprehensive business proposal. They are Oralcom (Ghana) Limited, Adbace Voice Systems, National Telecoms Cards Company (NTCC), Skidlab Ventures Newland Telecommunications Systems Limited (Newtel) and Omniacom Internet Ghana. When the review process is complete, two firms will be selected for each of the NCA’s zones, which are Greater Accra; Ashanti; Western/Central; Eastern/Volta; and Brong Ahafo/Northern/Upper East/Upper West. The regulator says the rationale for zoning is to ‘ensure socio-economic balance, accelerated multi-media penetration, enhanced competitiveness, among others.’ Applicants can feasibly acquire licences for all five regions, providing they commit to meeting the rollout requirements of each concession. Each zone will have its own set conditions concerning network deployment targets, which will be effective from the date of issue of the licence.