Parliamentary minority pushes back on Ghana’s exclusive 5G deal with Indian billionaire – Techpoint Africa

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The news: 

  • The National Democratic Congress (NDC), a social democratic political party in Ghana, has called the Ghanaian government’s plan to launch a 5G network using a company in partnership with Indian businessman and Reliance Industries Ltd. Chairman, Mukesh Ambani, a bad deal in a statement released on Monday, June 3, 2024. 
  • The minority caucus stated that the West African nation could have generated more advanced funds if the Nana Akufo-Addo-led administration had effected a formal bidding process rather than an exclusive deal. 
  • The political party explained that the debt-ridden nation would be better served by allocating its limited funds to far-reaching development projects across the country. 

“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,” the party claimed in the statement.

Per the NDC caucus’ claims, Ghana could have generated between $400 million and $500 million upfront if the federal government had followed a formal bidding process, instead of awarding a contract to the company known as Next Gen Infraco (NGIC) for $125 million paid in annual instalments over a decade. 

Per the terms of the deal, NGIC and its strategic partners will retain exclusive rights over the West African country’s only 5G licence for a decade. 

Radisys Corp., an Ambani-managed Reliance Industries Ltd subsidiary., will provide network infrastructure, smartphones, and applications for Ghana-based NGIC. 

NGIC’s other partners include Nokia Oyj, Tech Mahindra Ltd. (an Indian outsourcer), and Microsoft Corp. Two African telecom companies, Ascend Digital Solutions Ltd. and K-NET, jointly own 55% of the company, with the Ghanaian government owning only about 10%. 

An attempt by a publication to get the government’s comment on the development via the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation spokesperson yielded no result. 

The African-based Ascend Digital Solutions and K-NET have also yet to comment on the deal. 

Reports indicate that the deal aims to replicate the feat of Ambani’s Jio Infocomm Ltd. in India when it launched its telecom services in 2016 to offer low-cost data and free voice calling for hundreds of millions of Indians. 

With a population of slightly more than 33 million and three major telecom operators — MTN Ghana, Telecel Ghana, and AirtelTigo (formerly AT) — Ghana’s government hopes to digitally connect the country within the next six years. 

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The government expected this deal to propel the country towards this goal, but with the NDC’s opposition, the deal’s fate remains uncertain. 

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