Parliament raises red flag over ICH

General News of Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Source: The Chronicle

Ghana Parliament

The Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications has raised the red flag over the government’s decision to implement the Interconnect Clearing House (ICH) system in the country. The Committee is calling for an extension of time to allow the government to engage in further consultations with stakeholders in the telecommunications industry.

According to the Committee, there are a number of very critical issues which stakeholders in the sector have raised in their discussions with the sector ministry, which, if not attended to, could endanger the implementation of the system.

The Committee has, therefore, called on the sector Minister to continue dialoguing with the various stakeholders in the telecommunications industry, with a view to addressing the concerns raised.

The Committee raised the concerns in a letter dated February 27, 2015, signed by its Chairman, Albert Abongo, and addressed to the Minister of Communications.

“I write to remind you of the members’ request that you submitted to the Committee, responses to the numerous queries it had raised by the Chamber of Telecommunication Service Providers, as well as the Individual Service Providers.

“The Committee wishes to assure you and the stakeholders of its preparedness to continue to be a part of the process towards [an] amicable resolution of the concerns raised, as the Committee continues to receive petitions and representations on [a] daily basis,” the letter observed.

The Interconnect Clearing House is the system where an operator is contracted to connect calls from one network to the other on behalf of the telecommunications service providers.

Already, the government had appointed an ICH operator, not only to connect calls from one network to the other on behalf of the telecommunications service providers, but also to connect in-bound international calls to the various networks.

The Parliamentary Committee on Communications, on Thursday, held a crucial meeting with key stakeholders in the nation’s telecommunication sector to discuss the government’s plans to introduce the ICH system to prevent SIM Box fraud in the sector.

The meeting was attended by Members of Parliament (MPs), officials of the Ministry of Communication, the Telecom Chamber, and representatives of the telecos.

While the government argues that the introduction of the ICH will help ensure revenue integrity in the sector, the telecom service providers are of the opinion that the move will undermine service quality, compromise the privacy of customers, and lead also to high tariffs.

Many experts and MPs have added their voices to the call on the government to look into its decision to implement the IHC system, which, according to them, could throw our smooth running telecommunication interconnectivity into disarray.

Kwaku Kwarteng, MP for Obuasi West, in an interview with The Chronicle, said Wireless Applications Services Providers and the Internet Service Providers, who are wholly Ghanaian-owned operators in the sector, have said they have already invested in interconnect arrangements, and, therefore, do not need any ICH.

According to him, the telecommunications service providers have expressed great worry that the government-appointed ICH would rather introduce unnecessary breakdowns and disruptions in their operations.

He explained that each telecommunications service provider has invested in the necessary infrastructure and complied with their interconnectivity obligations required by the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) to make interconnection arrangements with each and every other telecommunications service provider, which is why people easily call from one network to another as easily as they call subscribers within the same network.

“The question is what problem is government seeking to solve? None! This is nothing but connivance between government and its cronies posing as some Interconnect Clearing House company to make undeserved money from the Consolidated Fund and from the telecommunications industry.

“It is the handiwork of greedy people in government seeking to pocket illegitimate money at the expense of the nation,” the Obuasi West Legislator elucidated. Read Kwaku Kwarteng’s full article on the subject on Page 14

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