Nigeria’s second national telecommunications carrier, Globacom, has declared its preparation to pull out of Ghana as a result of frustrations and sabotage of every effort it has made to provide nationwide coverage of the country.
The Nigerian firm started operations in Ghana in December 2009 in spite of the fact that five other networks â€“ MTN, Tigo, Vodafone, Zain and Kasapa â€“ had already virtually taken up the Ghana market. Since the National Communications Authority (NCA) of Ghana awarded it its operating licence, it has been experiencing frequency encroachments, vandalisation of its billboards and base stations, lack of support from Ghanaâ€™s security agencies and frustrating delays in securing approval for a quick nationwide rollout plan which it had perfected.
We find it disturbing that this is happening at a time that other smaller Nigerian business outfits in Ghana have experienced shutdowns as a result of the new regulation by the Ghana Investment Promotion Council (GIPC) which requires that foreign businesses operating in Ghana must pay a whopping 300,000 US Dollars before they can be permitted to continue. Since the authorities started a fast-track implementation of this obnoxious law, many Nigerian businesses in Ghana have been forcibly shut and small shops locked up while their owners are left loitering and hoping for a miracle to happen to change their fates.
The argument put up for the levy was that the law had to be put in place to protect local Ghanaian business operators against the influx of foreigners from Nigeria, India, China and other highly populated emerging economies who have come to take advantage of the improved business environment of Ghana. As much as this argument does not seem to take cognisance of ECOWAS regulations on free trade and economic unification protocols, one is left to wonder what private Ghanaian business interest the frustration of Globacom of the country will serve in a market already dominated by these five mainly foreign-owned networks.
What Globacom is attempting to do in Ghana â€“ arriving in spite of the fact that other big competitors have already almost taken up the market â€“ is akin to what Etisalat and Visafone were able to do in Nigeria. Etisalat, which is owned by interests originating from the United Arab Emirate (UAE) not only came into the Nigerian market two years ago but has been allowed to find its place and grow its customer base without harassment.
Why is Globacomâ€™s case in Ghana different? Is it because it is a Nigerian firm? Is this part of the anti-Nigerian xenophobia that has suddenly become a fad in Ghana and among Ghanaians? Even Nigerian banks which set up shop as part of their efforts to widen their operational base in the continent just as South African firms have been doing, have not fared any better in a hostile Ghana environment.
We are yet to get any reports of any shortcomings in Globacomâ€™s operations in Ghana. If anything, the company has gone out of its way to be very supportive of the countryâ€™s sports and entertainment stars, ensuring that unlike what South African companies did in Nigeria at the outset, only Ghanaian stars are used to push its promotional activities in Ghana.
We are happy to note that the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has decided to wade into the allegations against the sabotage of Globacomâ€™s operations in Ghana with a view to ascertaining whetherÂ the protocols of the West African Telecommunications Regulatory Agency have been infringed upon in Ghana, which is a signatory to it. We urge the company and all other Nigerian businesses pushing to extend their tentacles to the rest of the continent not to be deterred by the unfriendly antics of our African â€œbrothersâ€, who have for some time now been exhibiting anything but brotherly attitude towards Nigerian interests.
Nigeria will still be great irrespective of all these irritations from our neighbours, including Ghana, whose nationals we gave shelter when their country was going through trying times?