NCA Hot Over Afriwave Deal


Franklin Cudjoe1



The National Communications Authority (NCA) has offered to explain the circumstances leading to the award of a monopoly licence to Afriwave Telecom Ghana Limited to operate the controversial interconnect clearing house (ICH) for telecom companies, albeit in a bizarre manner.

The regulator says it was ‘some transpositional error’ that led to some of the bidders scoring high marks during the assessment process, but it was later ‘corrected.’

Interestingly, however, the NCA could not tell the public the actual score after the purported ‘correction’ which made Afriwave win the contract on a silver platter.

IMANI Ghana, a policy analysis think-tank, believes some interests were being served with the award of the contract to Afriwave, and has therefore called for its abrogation and a fresh start of the bidding process.

 

Over-Voting

In what appears to be an over-voting reminiscent of the 2012 election petition where over-voting was described as ‘transpositional error,’ the NCA says a similar thing happened in the bidding process.

A close look at the scores awarded all the competing companies in three main categories indicate that Afriwave scored more marks than the maximum awarded.

“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,” it said in a statement issued yesterday to rebut an investigative piece done by IMANI Ghana on an alleged fraudulent manipulation of the bidding process of the ICH.

IMANI is insisting that the processes leading to the award of a monopoly licence to Afriwave is riddled with fraud.

“The procedure for getting them (Afriwave) that licence was fraudulent,” IMANI boss, Franklin Cudjoe, told Joy Fm yesterday.

He believes someone has a vested interest in Afriwave; thus, the manipulation of figures.

 

Rigged Process


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According to a statement by IMANI, the Application Evaluations Committee that looked into the capabilities of five companies that had put in bids to manage the ICH platform rigged the process in favour of Afriwave.

The companies that put in bid included Afriwave, Subah Infosolutions, Prodigy International Limited, TCMS-GVG Consortium Limited and Channel IT Ghana Limited.

The think-tank alleged that the Albert E. Enninful 8-member panel instituted by the NCA had admitted that they had insufficient information to make informed judgements about the financials of most tenders and wondered what informed the total points awarded under debt and equity.

The evaluation report itself mentioned on page 32 that the financial position of Afriwave was not strong and that their finances were actually negative. “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,” the report stated.

The report was received and recommendation accepted by the NCA Board chaired by Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie.

How a company which finances were described as negative by the evaluation panel became the eventual winner is a big question on the lips of observers.

 

Draft Report

“We are not sure where IMANI got their information from, and we would like to plead with the general public to ensure that they get their information from the right sources, in this case from the NCA,” the authority said in the statement and added that IMANI was misleading the public by basing its analysis on a ‘draft ‘report.’

 

Transparent Evaluation

According to the NCA, Afriwave is a wholly-owned Ghanaian company with Laurisia Associates as its integration partner, Huawei and Muecci as its technology partners that provided “the most satisfactory responses against four other competitive applicants.”

It said that there was “a comprehensive and transparent evaluation of the bids of the five applicants on 23rd January, 2015,” and the NCA Board of Directors “considered the evaluation report and the recommendations contained therein and endorsed the said recommendations,” adding, “the Board duly adjudged Afriwave Ghana Limited as the winner of the Clearing House licence.”

By William Yaw Owusu


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