How Reliance’s 5G deal in Africa may be in ‘trouble’, gets ‘sweetheart deal’ label – The Times of India

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Reliance recently announced that it is taking its telecom operations global. African nation Ghana has signed deals with a Reliance Jio subsidiary, Tech Mahindra and other vendors to build 4G and 5G infrastructure as the African country aims to enhance its telecom capabilities.
The partnership reportedly has not gone well with Ghana’s opposition. According to a report in Bloomberg, “A deal for Asia’s second-richest man to cash in on 5G wireless service demand in Ghana faces opposition from the country’s parliamentary minority, which has accused the administration of rushing into a “sweetheart deal.”

Why Ghana’s opposition is against the deal

The country’s parliamentary minority has reportedly accused the government of rushing into a bad deal.The National Democratic Congress (NDC) argues that the agreement with Next Gen Infraco (NGIC) is disadvantageous for Ghana. They claim the government could have secured a much larger upfront payment through a competitive bidding process. “The NDC caucus in Parliament holds the view that at a time that the country is in dire need of foreign exchange and non-tax revenue, it is unconscionable that the government will hand over the precious and highly sought-after 5G spectrum of the country to a shell company for a pittance,” it said in the statement.

What is the Reliance’s 5G partnership

Under the current agreement, NGIC gains exclusive control over Ghana’s only 5G license for a decade. Reliance Industries, led by Ambani, will provide network infrastructure, applications, and smartphones through its subsidiary Radisys Corp. Other partners involved include Nokia, Microsoft, and Indian outsourcer Tech Mahindra. Two lesser-known African firms, Ascend Digital Solutions and K-NET, hold a majority stake (55%), while the Ghanaian government retains roughly 10%.
Ghana’s Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, said during the announcement that the choice of Indian partners. She highlighted India’s similar demographics and recent success with telecom expansion through Reliance Jio. This, she believes, gives India valuable, up-to-date experience that Ghana can benefit from.
The project is expected to be completed within six months, with local telecom companies utilizing the shared infrastructure to offer 5G services.

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