Ghana’s telecoms operators condemn international call monitoring

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT), comprising of all the telecoms operators in the country, has endorsed a declaration by the West African Telecommunications Conference (WATC) condemning international call monitoring in Ghana.

The WATC issued a communiqué at its recent meeting in Dakar, Senegal on November 25, 2010 describing government’s monitoring, levy and surcharges on incoming international calls as a breach of International Telecom Laws, the ECOWAS Treaty and the West African Union Treaty.

It condemned the practice and called on all telecom operators in countries where the practice is ongoing, like Ghana, Guinea and Congo, not to cooperate with any company employed by their respective governments to monitor calls and impose surcharges and levies.

“We recommend that operators in the sub-region should cease all commercial relationships with any firm implicated in the imposition of such a surcharge system,” it said.

WATC said it will continue to fight against the imposition of any such system in the sub-region and support all telecom operators to do same. .

“We reaffirm our determination to pursue actions against the development of this practice and support operators subjected to this surcharge across our entire economic area,” it said.

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications said they endorse the position of the WATC.

In Ghana, the government has imposed a 19 cent per minute charge on all incoming internationals calls and has employed Global Voices Group (GVG) to monitor those calls and ensure that government got its revenue.

The telecom operators have resisted the practice from day one, but government has insisted that some operators under declare international call revenue and that affects the government tax revenue from that source.

The government also insists that it has evidence that some telecom operators connive with fraudsters to use simboxes to do call bypass, which enable them to re-route incoming international calls through local SIM cards making those calls terminate as though they were locally generated.

Since the Ghana government started monitoring and levying incoming international calls, it has generated not less than $15 million in taxes, and Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu has stated emphatically that nothing will stop the government from monitoring incoming international calls to check fraud and generate revenue for the state.

But the WATC’s communiqué, dubbed “Dakar Declaration – concerning government imposed surcharges on incoming international traffic” condemned the allegation that operators make false declarations of traffic and are directly involved in the proliferation of simboxes.

The communiqué said the practice runs counter to point seven of the communiqué issued by the ECOWAS ICT and Telecoms Ministers in Bamako on July 29, 2010, which enjoins member states to avoid levies and surcharges on incoming international calls.

“This tax also runs counter to the trend of lowering settlement fees as per the recommendation of the International Telecoms Union (ITU)” of which Ghana’s Minister of Communications, Haruna Iddrisu is Chair.

The communiqué said the taxes results in general increase in retail prices, to be suffered both by local consumers and those in the Diaspora, and thereby increase the digital divide.

It said by significantly increasing the settlement fee, the practice causes an increase in fraud and reduction in incoming international calls, reduction in revenue and diminished fiscal receipts.

The WATC therefore demanded that all countries who have imposed or propose to impose such a system should reconsider their action in the interest of the citizens and the sub-region.

Meanwhile, Senegal, Gabon, Cote d’Ivoire and Burkina Faso have agreed to suspend the system in their countries.

There are six mobile phone companies licensed to so business in Ghana. They are MTN, Vodafone, Tigo, Airtel, Expresso and Globacom which yet to start operations.
By Samuel Dowuona

1 Comment
  1. Sunil Baraskar says

    Need information on name of the telecom mobile service providers and their number of sites.

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