Tender Fraud At NCA …Chronicle Investigations Show That Company Did Not Win Bid … Imani Calls For Full Probe

News Desk Report

Edward Omane Boamah, Communications MinisterThe controversy surrounding the appointment of Afriwave Telecoms Ltd. to operate an Interconnect Clearing House on behalf of telephone network operators in Ghana has taken a new twist.

After the National Communication Authority (NCA) had ordered Subah Info Solutions to remove its gadgets from the nodes of the telephone companies and hand over to Afriwave, it has now emerged that the process for the selection of Afriwave is fraught with irregularities.

Afriwave was awarded the contract after going through a bidding process to operate the Interconnect Clearing House (ICH) in January 2015 by the National Communication Authority.

Interconnection refers to the technical arrangements through which mobile network operators connect their equipment, networks and services to each other so that their subscribers can communicate with the subscribers of other mobile network operators.

Per the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775); each mobile network operator is required to interconnect with every other network operator. This is referred to in the law as peer-to-peer interconnection, and it is to ensure that subscribers of one operator are able to communicate flawlessly with subscribers of other operators.

All network operators in Ghana have invested considerably in peer-to-peer interconnection facilities in compliance with the law, and have been interconnecting cross-network communication themselves.

But in November 2014, the NCA announced that it was going to appoint another company to compulsorily interconnect all cross-network communication on behalf of network operators. In a nutshell, the NCA was going to appoint a company to operate an Interconnect Clearing House on behalf of network operators.

Sequel to this, the NCA, on 2nd December 2014, invited companies to bid for the Interconnect Clearing House license. Five companies responded.  They were (i) Channel IT Ltd, (ii) Prodigy International Ltd, (iii) Subah Infosolutions Ltd,

(iv) Afriwave Telecoms Ltd and (v) TCMC-GVG Consortium Ltd.
In the last week of January 2015, the NCA announced that Afriwave Telecoms Ltd had won the tender.  The implementation of the ICH has, however, been unable to take off due to the lack of supporting legislation, and also, the pendency of a legal suit.

But now, what is really threatening to derail the ICH is a leakage of the confidential 67-page Tender Valuation Report, which reveals there was a game-changing fraud in the valuation process.
1.    The valuation process was in three parts:
(i)    Legal and Management
(ii)    Technical
(iii)     Financial

In all, Afriwave Telecoms Ltd won by a margin of 5.5 points over its closest rival Subah Infosolutions Ltd (page 51 of 67 document). On page 63 of the Report, a copy of which is in the possession of The Chronicle, where the scoring of the technical abilities of the bidders were reported, a casual inspection of the figures reveals the following shocking irregularities.

i.    On “Technical Profile of Operational Support Team”, the maximum obtainable score was 1 point. Strangely, Afriwave was awarded 5 points.
ii.    On “Fitness for Purpose; EIR” the maximum obtainable score was again 1 point. Afriwave was awarded 4 points.
iii.    On “Interconnect (all Telcos, MNP, Link sizing)” the maximum obtainable score was 2 points. Afriwave was awarded 4 points.
iv.    On “Stability of Topology”, the maximum obtainable score was 1 point. Afriwave was awarded 2 points.
v.    On “Provision of Critical Bill of Quantities” the maximum obtainable score was 1 point. Afriwave was awarded 2 points.

The Chronicle established that, even if it is assumed that Afriwave scored the maximum points on each of these criteria, a total of 11 points was awarded undeservedly to Afriwave, which won them the licence.

The 8-member Application Evaluation Panel whose signatures appear on this Report   are  Mr. Albert E. Enninful, Emma Akua Amankwa (Esq), Mr. Daniel Adjei Asante, Mr Derek Appiah, Mr. George Afedzi Hayford, Mr. Arnold Okai, Dr Charles Teye Amoatey and Fred Asante-Danquah (Esq).

Per the valuation report (page 57) panel members of the bid committee have signed a confidentiality and non-disclosure agreement with the NCA, which forbids them from disclosing the contents of the evaluation.

Consequently The Chronicle was unable to contact them. The Chief Executive Officer of the Subah Info Solutions, Birenda Sasmal told this reporter that he had not sighted the report.

He, however, noted that he would not hesitate to hand it over to his lawyers should he sight one. Meanwhile, the Imani Ghana who is leading the fight against the Interconnect Clearing House have called for a probe into the contract.
Read Imani’s account on centre pages.