Opposition takes gov’t to court for telecom deal

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A group of Ghanaians is taking legal action against the government to halt the intended sale of state-owned Ghana Telecom to telecoms giant Vodafone international.

Bright Akwetey, solicitor for the group, said in Accra on Thursday that the causes of action for the suit against the government include recklessly causing financial loss to the state; unlawful disposal of public property; entering into a contract of sale detrimental to the public interest; undervaluing public property for sale to a foreign company; and entering into a public agreement without due process.

The relief being sought include revocation of the agreement for the sale of Ghana Telecom to Vodafone international; order for dissolving the enlarged Ghana Telecom Company created for purposes of the sale of Ghana Telecom; restoration of the fibre optic network to Volta River Authority; and order for a true and faithful revaluation of assets of Ghana Telecom.

Government on July 3 announced an agreement with Vodafone, the world’s leading mobile telecommunication group, in a partnership deal for 70 per cent of its shares in Ghana Telecom. The Government will retain a 30 per cent stake in Ghana Telecom.

A government statement said an understanding had also been reached with Vodafone to float GT shares on the Ghana Stock market as soon as possible.

“In consideration of this agreement, Ghana Telecom’s enterprise value is approximately US$1.3 billion plus a cash injection of US$500 million, totalling US$1.8 billion,” the statement said.

It said many benefits would accrue to Ghanaians, including delivery of a superior product and services in every corner of the country, raising GT’s mobile market share to provide competitive per minute call charges, efficient service to ensure uninterrupted service to the consumer and injection of substantial investment into the economy.

The statement said Vodafone would leverage its experience in over 25 countries and partner networks in an additional 42 countries with over 260 million customers worldwide to provide the best service in telecommunication to Ghanaians.

The transaction is, however, subject to approval by Parliament which rose without debating the agreement that has been criticised by several politicians and civil society groups.

The Committee for Joint Action (CJA), a pressure group, has expressed its strong opposition to the intended sale “without regard to national economic, political and strategic interest”.

The group said the transaction was being carried out in such haste as to deny Ghanaians the opportunity to discuss its full significance.

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, a member of CJA, said the sale of GT had been justified by false claim by government that Ghanaians did not have the expertise to manage the company.

Parliament is to be recalled in two weeks to debate the agreement, which generated heated arguments in the House between the government side and minority parties.

The Ghana Trades Union has also called on government to withdraw the proposed sale/purchase agreement before Parliament and called for broad public debate and consultations on available options.

The Christian Council of Ghana on its part said the divergent and dissenting views from well-meaning Ghanaians on government’s decision called for a careful reflection and consensus building to ensure that any action taken did not affect the supreme interest of Ghana. Panapress .

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