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NewsWhy a week-old company was awarded 5G contract - Communications Minister explains

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Why a week-old company was awarded 5G contract – Communications Minister explains

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Communications and Digitalisation Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has confirmed that NextGen InfraCo, the company awarded the contract for the rollout of the 5G network, was established just one week before receiving the contract.

Madam Owusu-Ekuful clarified that the company was specifically created for this purpose because there was no existing neutral infrastructure company capable of handling the rollout at that time.

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During a press briefing on the 5G rollout, she elaborated on the government’s reasoning behind this decision. She noted that auctioning the contract was not pursued due to previous experiences and setbacks that had hindered the rollout of the country’s 4G technology, which has achieved only a 15% nationwide penetration since its introduction in 2015.

The Minister highlighted that the challenges faced during the 4G rollout influenced the government’s approach to the 5G deployment. By directly awarding the contract to a newly created entity, the government aims to avoid similar obstacles and expedite the implementation process for the 5G network.

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The Member of Parliament for Ablekuma West provided insight into the government’s strategic decision-making process, emphasizing the need for a dedicated infrastructure company to ensure the successful and timely rollout of 5G technology across the country.

“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.” 

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“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.

Confirmation of the contract awarded to NextGen InfraCo Ltd. for the 5G network rollout has sparked concerns raised by investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, May 30, Awuni highlighted that the company was incorporated barely a week before President Akufo-Addo granted executive approval for the deal.

Awuni pointed out that the contract, estimated to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was awarded through sole sourcing, without giving other companies the opportunity to bid for the project. This lack of competitive bidding raises suspicions about the transparency and fairness of the procurement process, according to Awuni.

Before these claims, the government had announced a partnership with seven industry leaders to develop a new shared infrastructure aimed at delivering affordable 5G mobile broadband services across Ghana. The partners, including Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, Tech Mahindra, and two telecommunications companies – AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana, have formed the Next-Gen Infrastructure Company (NGIC), which has been awarded a 5G license.

NGIC is expected to launch 5G services across Ghana within the next six months, with plans for further expansion into other parts of Africa. The partnership aims to enhance the lives of Ghanaians by introducing digital services in education, healthcare, and digital payment transactions through peer-to-peer (P2P), peer-to-merchant (P2M), and merchant-to-merchant (M2M) systems, reducing the digital divide and promoting financial inclusion.

The multi-party partnership will support NGIC in deploying network infrastructure and related services, addressing both enterprise and consumer markets with enhanced digital services. Tech Mahindra will build a Cloud Native Core Network powered by leading original equipment manufacturer (OEM) platforms.

NGIC plans to adopt India’s successful model of affordable handsets, digital platforms, and localized content and applications to replicate this high-speed mobile data model across Africa, starting with Ghana.

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