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Tuesday, August 28, 2012
MOBILE NUMBER PORTABILITY SUCCESS IN GHANA-INTERVIEW WTH MR.BOB PALITZ
Mr. Bob Palitz is a consultant for the National
Communications Authority (NCA) on the implementation of Mobile Number
Portability (MNP) in Ghana which got under way in July 2011,last year. The
month of July 2012 this year was used to access the success and achievements of
this exercise in Ghana. The National regulator in the country, National
Communication Authority (NCA) together with other stakeholders in the telecom
industry marked the one year anniversary of MNP in Ghana with the issuance of a
report that recount the smooth implementation of the exercise since its inception
last year till date. Although the NCA described the exercise as a success, it
also pointed out certain challenges that are still bedeviling the successful running
of the MNP across country. For an in-depth understanding of how successful the
MNP was carried out, BiztechAfrica's Ghana correspodent Nana Appiah Acquaye granted an exclusive interview to Mr. Bob
* Overall, would you
describe the MNP implementation as successful?
Yes, I believe it was very
successful. We have enabled Ghanaian mobile customers to take advantage of the
competitive environment, and nearly 400,000 have already done so.
* Is the number of people porting to new operators in
line with global averages?
We believe it is, although there are
few examples of developing countries which have implemented MNP in an efficient
and consumer-friendly manner. In one year, we had successful ports equivalent
to 1.6% of the total active account base in Ghana. But there are far fewer
ACTUAL customers in Ghana, due to so many people having 2 or 3 SIMs. This would
make the porting number higher than 1.6% compared to the actual number of
individuals with mobile phones, but there is no way to measure how much higher
since we don’t know how many people have more than one SIM.
India has recently reported almost
5% of mobile base porting, but a lot of those ports were due to customers
moving from networks which were shut down due to a court decision. It’s a
different situation entirely.
We do expect porting to grow with
market size and public awareness.
* The report mentions
miscommunication and even deception causing problems. How many people have been
affected by this?
The reports reaching us indicate it
is far less than 1% of successful ports. But again, we take any deceptive
practice very seriously.
What steps are being taken to prevent this?
NCA doesn’t have any direct recourse
with the field agents themselves, only against the operators on whose behalf
they are acting. Each operator has confirmed to us that they apply a financial
penalty to agents who have submitted fraudulent porting requests, but none have
told us that they remove such agents from their systems. Obviously this has
been insufficient to address the problem. We care considering various steps,
including redesign of the porting request form to highlight a warning, and more
detailed investigations of each incident, possibly leading to sanctions.
By when will a decision be taken about sanctions against operators who allow it
We believe a multi-faceted approach
is needed. With regard to sanctions, the Mobile Number Portability Regulations
2011 already give NCA authority to assess administrative penalties of up to
GHS20,000 per incident. However, we are in the process of composing a detailed
list of sanctions for each type of offense, and the factors that lead to this
situation will be included. That list will have to be gazetted before it can
take effect. We cannot predict when sanctions would kick in with regard to
fraudulent porting, but it is clearly in the cards, if other methods fail.