KPMG assures transparent auction of 4G spectrum – NCA

The appointed auctioneer for the 800MHz spectrum, KPMG has assured the bidders and the general public of absolute transparency and professionalism in the forthcoming auction later this month.

Partner at KPMG in charge of telecoms, Andy Akoto gave the assurance in an interview with selected journalists after a thorough pre-auction orientation session organized by the National Communications Authority (NCA) for the four bidders.

The auction of a pair of 2x10MHz spectra blocks in the 800MHz band is slated for December 2 – 6, 2015 and two winners are expected to be announced on December 7.

The four bidders comprise of three local companies; Surfline Communications, Goldkey Telecoms and Migson Communications, and South African telecoms giant, MTN Ghana (Scancom Ghana Limited).

All four were present at the orientation, in spite of the fact that Surfline and Goldkey are members of the Ghana ICT Chamber, which is vehemently fighting against the whole open auction process.

Andy Akoto said KPGM had, prior to the orientation, engaged all four and run them through the modalities and assured them of KPMG’s commitment to the principles of objectivity, transparency, professional and international quality in the process.

He said, to further assure the participants and clients (NCA) of top quality work, “we have drafted some of our expert international staff to join the team in Ghana to deliver on this all important auction which has gotten a lot of public attention in the past few weeks.”

The four bidders are required to show proof of 35 per cent Ghanaian ownership in their companies, a requirement that the NCA said each winning bidder will be given some time to meet.

They were also supposed to have paid ten per cent of the $67.5million floor price of each of the spectra by close of day yesterday, but Andy Akoto said as of yesterday some had still not paid the 10 per cent.

He is confident that through the various engagements with the bidders, they have understood the guidelines, which are also published on the NCA website, and come December 2 – 6, 2015, they will all show up prepared to place their bids accordingly.

Speaking of public attention, it would be recalled that the ICT Chamber has registered its opposition to MTN Ghana’s participation in the auction simply because MTN is a South African company.

The Chamber insisted that the spectrum should be given to Ghanaian companies, adding that it had put together a consortium of 10 local companies to raise $83million to pay for Ghana’s digital migration in exchange for the whole of the 800MHz spectrum.

But Deputy Director-General of NCA, Albert Enninful noted that the ICT Chamber’s proposal is untenable because they were not even ready to pay the $83million upfront, but the country needs to raise money immediately for the digital migration.

He also noted that the NCA had ensured significant local content in the telecom industry by awarding the first three 4G spectra to only Ghanaian companies and also insisting that this new spectrum should have 35 per cent Ghanaian ownership.

The Deputy DG also noted that the issues raised by the ICT Chamber were not different from what the local 4G players raised during pre-auction public consultation period, and lots of their concerns had already been taken on board prior to the final decision to do an open auction.

“No part of the law (Electronic Communications Act, Act 775) said spectrum auction should be limited to Ghanaians – the law says spectrum should be available to network operators and that is what we are doing,” he said.

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