Acquiring ‘expensive’ 4G spectrum is longterm strategic investment – Vodafone Ghana CEO

Business News of Friday, 28 December 2018

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

2018-12-28

play videoVodafone Ghana CEO, Yolanda Cuba

Chief Executive Officer of Vodafone Ghana, Yolanda Cuba has suggested that the recent acquisition of 4G licence by her outfit is in line with the company’s vision of being a driving force behind Ghana’s digitisation revolution.

Yolanda Cuba noted that Vodafone Ghana was also motivated by their intentions to make Ghana a key technological hub in the West African sub-region to compete for the spectrum.

In this regard, the Vodafone Ghana CEO considers obtaining the licence essential for the long-term sustainability of the company and its projected targets.

Speaking to www.ghanaweb.com, She disclosed that until now Ghana was the only country where Vodafone operates without a 4G licence.

Yolanda Cuba observed that it was critical to provide such service not only for their customers but the public in general as it will, in the long run, ensure digital inclusiveness.

In taking such a decision, she intimated that making profit wasn’t the consideration as it would have served as a stumbling block for such long-term investment.

“If we are taking a long-term view, that means that we have to be committed to our own strategy and vision as a company that is, we want to be driving Ghana’s digital revolution, making Ghana one of the most important West African countries when it comes to technology and as well as leaving no one behind the digital world. That for us, the inclusion agenda is really really important. And that means we have to take a long-term view. If I am looking for profits next year then I will say that we cannot invest, however, if I am looking for long-term sustainability then I think that is the right thing to do” she detailed.

Yolanda Cuba, however, did not shy away from expressing her views on the asking price of the National Communications Authority for the licence.

The NCA granted Vodafone Ghana the licence after accepting $30 million from the telecommunications company.

Yolanda Cuba was of the view that the price is high and above market price, holding on to earlier reservations her outfit expressed in the award of the first licence which went to MTN Ghana.

Vodafone Ghana decided against submitting an offer on the first request by NCA. Subsequently, Corporate Relations Manager at Vodafone at the time Ebenezer Amankwaah is reported to have said “$67.5 million is ridiculous. And if you compare the same band being auctioned in other developing countries, you’ll not get the same price. There was a similar thing in Nigeria and Tanzania and nobody charged $67.5 m. So we went to the regulator and said the spectrum is overpriced and it’ll not be prudent or cost-effective for any business to buy it (the band) at that price”.

He went on to add, “Do we want 4G as a company? Yes. Is 4G good for our customers? Yes. Is 4G the only platform that will guarantee additional speed for our customers? No. Because there are other platforms like career aggregations which is a new technology that you can deploy as a company to ensure regular speed for your customers”.

Despite the reservations, the Vodafone Ghana CEO clarified that the asking price of the NCA is not considered a disincentive for her outfit as they are determined to do all in their abilities to provide the best for the customers and Ghanaians.

Yolanda Cuba emphasised the rationale behind the bid despite the price factor explaining that the right balance had to be struck between the country’s vision and Vodafone Ghana’s long-term ambitions.

She said the successful bid is a reflection of Vodafone Ghana’s strategic long-term investments as it hoped to finally join the list of countries where Vodafone operates to have 4G spectrum.

“We still hold the same views about pricing. However, we have to balance the long-term sustainability of the business and the long-term sustainability agenda and strategy of the country as well. And when I balance the balance, to be honest, we concluded that whatever the price we actually had to participate and make sure that we really take the country forward” the CEO stated.

Yolanda Cuba revealed “If you look at the countries where Vodafone has its footprints, Ghana was the only one that didn’t have 4G. So for me, it was really important that we actually get to a point where we get to where the rest of the world is.”

Vodafone Ghana successfully won the bid to obtain a licence to operate the 4G service after National Communications Authority opened up for talks from interested parties in September 2018.

Vodafone Ghana secured the licence from the NCA after beating one other company that expressed interest to operate and establish the mobile service.

The sale of the Spectrum is in line with Section 58 of Electronic Communications Act 2008, Act 775 on Spectrum Management which highlights the NCA’s mandate and the options for Frequency Assignment.

The acquisition of the licence allows Vodafone Ghana to deploy services in the 4G Spectrum.

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