Ghana Denies Deliberately Excluding MTN from 5G Infrastructure Rollout

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5G
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Ghana’s Minister of Communication and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has refuted claims that MTN, the country’s leading telecoms provider, was intentionally left out of the 5G shared infrastructure rollout plans.

Last month, the Minister announced the issuance of a license to a special-purpose entity named Next-Gen Infrastructure Company. This consortium, she explained, is not a competitor to existing network operators but a facilitator. It is tasked with establishing and managing a nationwide 4G and 5G shared infrastructure, sparking public debate and criticism due to MTN’s absence from the initial seven-member consortium, which includes AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana.

Addressing the speculation on an Accra radio station recently, Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful categorically dismissed the notion as baseless, stating, “I don’t know who created that impression. Somebody threw it out there, and nobody spoke to me or anyone involved in putting this consortium together before spreading this false alarm. It is not true.”

She firmly reassured that discussions are ongoing with MTN and all other network operators in Ghana, emphasizing that MTN has not been excluded deliberately. “All network operators in the country are being offered the opportunity to take up equity in this Next-Gen InfraCo, including MTN. Eventually, MTN will get onboard,” she assured, instilling trust in the process.

Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, in explaining the government’s approach, highlighted the context of a significant policy decision in 2015. This decision, she noted, granted MTN exclusive access to the 4G spectrum due to its financial capacity. The intention was to accelerate the deployment of 4 G services in the country. However, this exclusivity subsequently impacted local market players, leading to the current disparities in the telecoms sector.

“We felt the need to reset the industry,” she explained, referencing the decision not to auction 5G licenses to the highest bidder. Instead, opting for a shared network model aims to level the playing field, ensuring broader access to 4G and 5G networks at affordable rates for Ghanaians, a move that promises a more inclusive and accessible telecom sector.

The Minister stressed that MTN’s extensive network reach in Ghana has led to congestion issues, underscoring the mutual benefit for MTN and its customers to participate in the shared network initiative. “MTN will have the opportunity to invest in the consortium or provide infrastructure to alleviate network congestion,” she added.

Regarding the rollout progress of the shared infrastructure, Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful confirmed that several consortium members have already contributed essential infrastructure, such as towers, to expedite deployment. She also assured the public that the project is on track and that the government is committed to ensuring its timely and successful completion.

The consortium comprises Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, Tech Mahindra, and the two smaller local telcos, AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana, collaborating to advance the shared 4G/5G infrastructure across Ghana.

As discussions continue with MTN and other stakeholders, the government remains committed to ensuring equitable access to telecom services while enhancing industry standards through collaborative efforts among key players, making the audience feel part of the process.

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