MTN Ghana CEO says regulation must encourage investments

Selorm Adadevoh Chief Executive Officer Updating Shareholders And Investors During Mtn S Half Year Results Announcement
Selorm Adadevoh Chief Executive Officer Updating Shareholders And Investors During Mtn's Half Year Results Announcement

The CEO of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh has said that regulations, particularly those that affect the technology industry, must encourage the kind of investment needed to meet the ever increasing demand for data consumption in the country.

He was speaking on a panel at the ongoing Ghana Mutual Prosperity Dialogue organized by the Ministry Finance for the leading stakeholders of the economy to discuss ways to leapfrog the country’s challenges and accelerate development.

Selorm Adadevoh noted that it is the duty of regulators to forecast what the future demands will be as opposed to the supply, then they fashion regulations in a way that creates the enabling environment for investors to put in the kind of money that is needed to bridge the yawning demand and supply gap both now and in the future.

He noted that even as of today, there is a yawning gap between power supply and what consumers demand, and so it is with data – demand far outstrips supply, but regulation seem to stand in the way of the kind of investment needed to bridge the gap.

According to him, even though industry players, particularly MTN keeps investing in the country, regulation is not creating the environment for the company to invest the next billion dollar needs to bridge the digital gap.

”We need the kind of regulations that will move investment from the current $300 million to the next $1 billion needed to meet the current and future data demands in a way they supports the development of this country both now and in the future,” he said.

Indeed, Selorm’s comments are not far from the central theme of this year’s Mobile World Congress Africa in Kigali, where all the main keynote speakers held that strong collaboration between governments and private sector is urgently required to expedite the bridging of the yawning digital gap in Africa.

In that mix, industry players will need regulators to timeously release the most relevant and affordable spectrum needed to roll out the relevant technologies in an affordable manner to rope in the greater majority of Africans into the digital space.

Again, it was a key point at the conference that regulators need to tone down on the taxes slapped on industry players, so they can convert part of their earnings into providing affordable devices and data packages for consumers as a way of bridging them gap. Rwanda was widely lauded to do that in a very practical way.

There was also the issue of power cost to tech industry operators, which is a very critical cost line that impacts their final pricing to the consumer.

It will be recalled that back in 2021, Selorm Adadevoh announced that MTN Ghana had readied over 1,300 cell sites across the country for a 5G network rollout in 2022. But that move was botched by the government’s/regulator’s refusal to grant MTN the required license for 5G.

MTN has since made a number of moves to get government to release the spectrum and license for it to roll out 5G but the government rather rolled out a technology neutrality on the 4G space and has also announced a central 4G/5G network run by the state, from where every player will be able to tap access and roll out 5G.

This is similar to a system run by the Rwandan government and South Korean Telecoms in the 4G space. But Rwanda has since walked a away from that policy but Ghana is now about to get into it.

Again, MTN has acquired loads for 4G LTE compliant spectrum but regulators have asked the telco to stagger the release of that spectrum as a way of controlling MTN’s market dominance. Meanwhile, demand for data on the MTN network keeps rising.

Selorm Adadevoh noted that the regulators need to understand that there is a huge and varied competition for investment both locally and even across markets, and players are most likely to invest into areas and into markets where regulations are investor friendly.

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