Telecoms Chamber urges gov't to reduce tariffs on incoming int'l calls
The President of the Telecoms Chamber, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, has appealed to government to reduce tariffs placed on incoming international calls since the internet provides a cheaper channel that may encourage people to use social media for calls.
According to him, government’s decision to charge telcos 2 million dollars as a gateway fee for international calls has made calls coming into the country very expensive, encouraging people to route international calls through the internet.
Speaking to Bernard Avle on the Citi Breakfast Show, Mr. Sakyi-Addo maintained that it will be in government’s own interest to review the fee in order to direct traffic through the traditional channel for the telcos to make money and pay back taxes to government.
“The point that the telcos are making with regard to international tariff and pricing is that, when you compel the telcos to charge 19 cents, and you tie their hands in that manner, when others can call for free than coming through the gateway which is the licensed channel, then the playing field is not level,” he lamented.
Explaining the effect on the operations of the telcos, Mr. Sakyi-Addo pointed out that social media has provided cheaper means of communicating, thereby rendering the traditional channel of making calls into the country not competitive.
“If you have a choice between calling Ghana over the internet for next to nothing…versus calling at 19 cents; which choice would you make”, he queried.
He explained that the country is also implicitly losing revenue since calls that bypass the gateway cannot be accounted.
“This is why you must not insist on charging so much in calling Ghana. Because you are losing traffic, because people have a choice, they don’t have to call through your gateway,” he said.
He stated that even though the telcos pay 2 million dollars for the license, they are burdened with renewing it at US$200,000 every year despite making losses.
CEO of MTN explains position
The CEO of MTN, Mr. Ebenezer Twum Asante, who also spoke on the show, clarified that the company was not against Ghanaians using social media to make calls, but the trend of international calls terminating on social media platform must be regulated.
“… there is some emerging trend that we have picked up, whereby in some jurisdiction even when people make normal voice calls it is terminated on Over The-Top (OTT), the person making the normal voice call pays the normal tariff but that tariff is fully withheld in the international jurisdiction and the telco does not pay anything to the telco in Ghana,” he said.
Mr. Asante said that ICT is dynamic; hence Ghana must develop policies to match with the growing trend to make the sector competitive.