For the first time in eight years, the alleged sole negotiator of the sale of Ghana’s 70 percent stake in Ghana Telecom to Vodafone Holdings BV, former President John Kufuor has confirmed widely held notion that the then state-owned Telecommunication Company was indeed not sold for the $900m the government had claimed.
As if under spell or being haunted by his conscience to reveal what actually went into the sale of GT, former President John Kufuor, who was alleged to have ignored companies offering higher bids for the former state owned company, announced that though GT was sold for the amount mentioned and that $900 million cash was duly paid to Ghana; he nevertheless, admitted even if inadvertently, his government actually earned $500 million from the deal.
Sale of the company in 2006, which is still being challenged in court by three stalwarts of the Convention Peoples Party (CPP), generated huge public uproar with the then biggest opposition party, the National Democratic Congress in alliance with the Committee for Joint Action led by Kwesi Pratt Jr and other well-meaning Ghanaians taking to the street in series of demonstrations to vent their anger.
The anger of the people stem mainly from two reasons, one of which was patriotism; been the only state telecommunication organization and danger to national security if it is sold. They further argued that the sum offered was paltry for such a strategic state asset.
But, speaking to Nana AnsahKwao IV on Personality Profile on PM Express on the Joy News channel on Multi TV last Friday, Ex-president Kufuor maintained “I’ll sell it(GT) a hundred times [and] I will do it again for Ghana if given the opportunity…not for me [Kufuor] but for Ghana”.
Without any sense of remorse for the highly criticized deal, a boastful Kufuor further stated “We got $900 million ‘neat’ dollars [from Vodafone] for 70% shares paid up front”.
In the midst of the huge public resentment which was also informed by the fact that per the agreement with Vodafone, Ghana was to take responsibility for the debts of the struggling state company thought to be around $400 million, Mr Kufuor and his team won’t budge.
The reasons for the protest by Ghanaians was further heightened when the then NPP Member of Parliament for Asikuma-Odoben-Brakwa constituency, Hon. P.C Appiah Ofori alleged that all NPP legislators who voted in favor of the deal were ‘sorted out’ with $5000 each, nonetheless, the government brazenly went ahead with the deal.
According to president Kufuor’s government the main reason for sealing the deal was that GT was reeling under a $400m debt; therefore, any further delay in privatizing the then state company could cause a collateral damage to the economy.
In the heat of the debate on the transaction, it emerged that South African Telecom offered to pay $1.5m for the same 70 percent shares that Vodafone paid $900m, but the South African company was ignored on the excused that it showed interest late.
Interestingly, the NPP government’s agreement with Vodafone, which was allegedly single-handedly entered by President Kufuor was that after Vodafone’s $900 million payment for the 70 percent shares in GT, Ghana government will ring-fence (take-over) the company’s $400 million debt.
In actual sense, what this means is that Ghana got only $500 million as value from the sale of 70% of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone as the government per the agreement reached with Vodafone had to pay GT’s $400m debt from the $900 million it received from Vodafone.
But while many considered it as a bad deal, the chief architect in the sale, former president John Kufuor says he has no regret opting for that deal and even vowed that if given another opportunity, he will repeat the exact thing he did in the Vodafone deal.