By Emmanuel Akli
An attempt by the National Communication Authority (NCA) to throw dust into the eyes of the public over the gargantuan fraud associated with the granting of license to Afriwave to operate the Interconnect Clearinghouse has exposed them more to public ridicule.
In a statement issued in Accra yesterday and signed by the Acting Director General, Mr. William Tevie, the NCA claimed the application valuation report which has been leaked was a draft one.
The statement further claimed that the NCA, in the preparation of the report transposed the scores from Excel to Microsoft Word and noticed that there were some transpositional errors, which were corrected to correspond with the original Excel scores.
But careful study of the leaked report, a copy of which is in the possession of The Chronicle, indicates that the Board Chairman of the NCA, Mr. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie dully approved of the report, which is now being described as a draft one.
On the last page of the report, which we have reproduced elsewhere in today’s edition, the board chairman wrote: “this recommendation by the AEP (Application Evaluation Panel) has been accepted and approved by the board.”
How a report that has been approved by the board chairman metamorphosed into a draft and yet was signed by all the eight evaluation panel members is the Gordian knot that must be untied.
Mr. Mawuko Zomelo, the Deputy Public Relations officer of the NCA, however, argued on Joy FM yesterday that what Imani is describing as fraud was actually a genuine error which was corrected immediately it was detected.
According to him, the final report had been prepared and submitted to the Ministry of Communications.
He could, however, not tell his listeners when the said final report would be published on their website. He could also not properly explain why a report he was describing as a draft was signed and approved by the board chairman.
Mr. Franklin Cudjoe, president of Imani, who contributed to the debate dismissed the claim being made by the NCA that the report was a draft one and that the cooking of the figures was a transpositional error.
Franklin contended that if the cooked figures given to Afriwave were actually transpositional error, at least one of the AEP members would have detected it before it was submitted to the NCA.
He wondered whether by implication, the NCA was trying to tell the public that the eight-member panel that examined the bid did not bother to read over the work they have done before submission. He contended that the NCA was becoming more of a business venture than a regulator insisting that some of the staff have vested interested in the deal.
Mr. Kwaku Kwarteng, the Member of Parliament for Obuasi West told this reporter via phone yesterday that the claim of transpositional error was bogus explanation.
According to him, it is impossible for an error to occur when copying documents from an excel programme to word and that the claim of the NCA does not hold water. Hon. Kwarteng further told this reporter that he had been using excel since his secondary school days and had never encountered such a problem and that if anything at all, it is the formatting that would change and not the document itself.
Mr. George Oware, head of the ICT department at The Chronicle, also told this reporter that the explanation given by the NCA was an attempt to insult the intelligence of ICT experts in Ghana. He noted that copying of figures from excel to word should never lead to the alteration of the figures. “This is the lamest excuse I have ever heard. Do they think we don’t have ICT experts in Ghana”, he asked.
The Chronicle carried a front page banner headline on Tuesday where the nocturnal changing of figures to favour Afriwave in the ICH operation contract was published.
Imani Ghana had done a scientific analysis and concluded that the process leading to the award of the contract to Afriwave was fraught with fraud.
The paper followed with another story yesterday where the evaluation committee that examined the bid documents for all the companies that put in the bid to run the ICH raised questions about the financial standing of Afriwave.
On page 12 of the leaked document, the evaluation panel said they based their scores on three main criteria – Legal and management -20%, Technical capability -40%, Financial capability -40%.
But despite expressing worry over the financial standing of Afriwave, the company still won the bid even though the financial capability constituted a whopping 40% of the scores.
On page 31 of the evaluation report, this is what the committee wrote, “Afriwave presented three (3) years financial statements (2011 to 2013). It depicts a steady decline in income over the period under consideration. Return on assets for the three years was on the decline. 2013 posted a loss resulting in a negative return on assets. Return on equity was exceptionally high relatively due to low shareholders’ funds (Stated Capital and Retained Profit). Because 2013 results was negative, return on equity for 2013 was also negative.
“Gross margins on the performance of the company were high averaging 54.3% which was exceptionally high , however operating profit ranges from 14% in 2011 to negative (loss) in 2013. The performance was a reflection of trend in income dropping from GH¢1.5m in 2011 to GH¢0.4m in 2014.
The liquidity position of the company was not that strong. On the average, current assets were barely higher than the current liabilities. The working capital was not positive for all three years, 2013 was negative. Connoisseurs are wondering how despite the expression of this observation, the Afriwave still won the multi-million dollar contract to operate the ICH. Meanwhile a bird has whispered into the ears of The Chronicle that some of the companies who lost the bid are planning legal action based on the media revelation that the process for the award of the contract was full of fraud.
Stay tune for more.