Friday, November 06, 2009

Vodafone Ghana's Got What's Coming

Some of us hate to say "we told you so", but some of us really did carry on till the cows came home on how bad and inimical for Ghana the Vodafone deal last August was. Here is what I wrote for

The specialists can bandy around figures that point to gross inefficiency in GT till the cows come home, but they can never escape what the legendary Mark Twain wrote--to wit: “there are lies, damn lies and statistics.” Even if we were to accept the plausible argument that GT is mismanaged and in dire need of capital injection, we cannot take away from the fact that despite this “mismanagement”, GT was able to roll out DIALup4u, despite the fact that many foreign cards were on the market that enabled internet access with no less than a GT landline base. On top of that, GT rolled out an aggressive campaign around 2005/2006 of BROADBAND4U (est.2004), which is now reportedly available in all the regions of the country.

I am not quite sure how dedicated a Vodafone Ghana will be to ensuring that the remotest parts of the country will have broadband internet access. As a state-owned company, it will always be in its interest to ensure deep penetration of its products in the country--and the bottom line is not always what counts. Contrast that with any strategic investor that comes into the country: unless the government monitors, there will be scant attention paid to the provision of rural telephony.

I cannot get over the fact that no less than the UK's Serious Fraud Office is considering querying Vodafone Ghana over what it calls financial irregularities. I cannot help but wonder what would have happened had this current administration not assumed power.

I do not believe for a second that they have a spotless record, but the retention of Ghana's fibre optic as a strategic national asset is nothing to be sneezed at. I do hope Ghanaians will strip away the polarization and politicization and remember that a fibre optic that is retained by Ghana is a deal that benefits Ghanaians--just the way our policy-makers should be looking at every aspect of policy.
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