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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Ursula justifies awarding NextGen InfraCo 5G contract a week after establishment

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, has defended the government’s decision to grant a 5G licensing contract to NextGen InfraCo, a company established a week before the contract was approved.

In defence, the Ablekuma West MP stated that NextGen InfraCo was specifically established to undertake the 5G rollout. She added that at the time, there was no other infrastructure company with the capacity to manage the rollout.

The minister further explained that the direct award of the contract to this new company is part of the government’s strategy to circumvent past challenges and accelerate the deployment of the 5G network in Ghana.

“This is a special purpose vehicle and once the government took the decision that we will use a neutral infrastructure company to deliver this service, there is no existing neutral infrastructure company that can deliver it at the moment.”

“So, it had to be specifically formed for the purpose of delivering this service based on the strategic policies and decisions of the government, and it is borne out of our experiences and that is why we chose not to auction it,” she stated.

Her explanation comes amid scrutiny from investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni, who questioned the timing of the contract awarded to NextGen InfraCo Ltd. Awuni highlighted in a social media post that the company was formed just a week before it received executive approval from President Akufo-Addo.

Awuni also criticised the sole-sourcing method used to award the contract, which is believed to be valued at hundreds of millions of dollars, without a competitive bidding process.

Meanwhile, the minister disclosed that Next-Gen InfraCo (NGIC), is expected to launch the internet services across the country within the specified period, followed by expansion to other parts of Africa.

NGIC, she explains, is a consortium formed between the government of Ghana and seven other partners.

They are; Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, and Tech Mahindra and two telcos – AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana.

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