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Sale of Ghana’s fibre optic to Vodafone in court

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The Commercial Division of the Accra Fast Track High Court will today hear evidence from the Volta River Authority (VRA) on how much the country lost through the ceding of its fibre optic backbone during the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone.

Mr Bright Akwetey, counsel for six members of the Convention People’s Party (CPP) who sued the Kufuor administration, told the court, presided over by Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, that handing over the fibre optic backbone “free of charge” to Vodafone was inimical to the interest of the people of Ghana.

The plaintiffs — Professor Agyeman Badu Akosa, Mr Kosi Dedey, Naa Kordai Assimeh, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, Mr Kwame Jantuah and Ms Rhodaline Imoru Ayarna — instituted a civil action in 2008 against the government over the sale of its 70 per cent shares in Ghana Telecom (GT) to the UK telecom operator, Vodafone.

At the heart of the evidence to be given by the VRA are why its subsidiary, Voltacom, was established, its value at the time it was handed over to Vodafone and how much the country lost as a result of the transfer of Voltacom’s assets to Vodafone.

By that, Mr Akwetey said his clients sought to establish why the then government could not just sell its 70 per cent stake in Vodafone but went ahead to add a whole company that was set up by public funds to provide, among other things, employment for the people.

Also expected at the court today is GRIDCo, which was established to distribute electricity, a task which involves the use of fibre optic cables.

Mr Akwetey prayed the court to allow GRIDCo to give evidence on how its operations were affected after 10 out of its 18 fibre optic cables owned by the VRA were ceded to Vodafone on the advice of the Kufuor administration.

Evidence has so far been taken from Mr Issah Yahya, a director at the Ministry of Communications and Secretary of the Inter-Ministerial Review Committee on the Vodafone Transaction, who also tendered the report of the committee as evidence.

The Ecobank Development Corporation, transaction advisers, also tendered its valuation report in which it had valued Ghana Telecom to be worth $1.075 billion.

A notice of civil action filed by the plaintiffs’ solicitor, Akwetey & Associates, in Accra on July 30, 2008 is asking the court to revoke the deal and dissolve the ‘Enlarged Ghana Telecom’ that has been created, noting that the agreement had been entered into without due process.

The notice is also calling for the restoration of the fibre optic network to the VRA.

Additionally, the notice is asking for a true and faithful inventory and re-evaluation of GT’s assets.

According to the notice, the decision of the group to sue the government was due to the unlawful disposal of the public property, describing the move as recklessly causing financial loss to the state.

The notice further stated that the contract, apart from being detrimental to public interest, had also under-valued public property for sale to a foreign company.

Source: Daily Graphic

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