The Head of Policy Research at IMANI, Patrick Stephenson, has cautioned the National Communications Authority, NCA to be wary of the negative consequences of its action on customers of MTN and other stakeholders, in their quest to regulate the telecommunication space.
His comments follow the High Court’s dismissal of MTN’s suit against the NCA’s declaration of the network as a Significant Market Power (SMP), and the Authority’s intention to regulate the telco space to ensure fair competition.
According to the NCA, MTN at the end of the first quarter of 2020, had 57 percent and 67.8 percent of the voice and data market share respectively.
Patrick Stephenson told Citi Business News any retrogressive steps taken by the NCA can affect innovation and overall growth within Ghana’s telecoms space.
“Let’s not make it sound as though the company necessarily did anything wrong until the NCA has established that MTN used its size to do something untoward. Going forward on this matter, I think we need to work more collaboratively within the sector, so we don’t create the impression that when private investors come here and invest we can suddenly apply laws that hinder innovation as well as their ability to give value to the final consumer,” he stated.
“A bit more clarity around the rules of engagement is also needed. Imagine this negatively impacts the bottom lines of MTN with implications for share price. That loss in value affects Ghanaians in the end, hence the need for the regulations to be a bit more sensitive to the various stakeholders within the telecommunications eco-system.”
Court dismisses MTN’s suit against NCA on market share regulation
The Commercial Division of the High Court in Accra on Tuesday, September 1, 2020, dismissed a suit filed by Mobile Telecommunication giant, MTN, against the National Communication Authority over its intent to regulate the telcos space to ensure fair competition.
MTN filed the suit after it was declared as a Significant Market Power (SMP).
According to MTN, that declaration as SMP was done in breach of their right to be heard and a violation of procedural fairness.
NCA countered with evidence of consultations since 2015 which culminated in an Analysis Mason Report of 2016.
The said report in 2016 declared MTN as SMP with about 46% share. Since then, the situation has changed, such that MTN holds about 58% of voice and 68% of data in 2020.
In dismissing the suit, the Court held that there is sufficient evidence of consultation for the NCA to so act, and that NCA did not act contrary to law.
The Court opined that the opportunity offered to MTN to make input by way of data fulfills the requirement of due process and procedural fairness.
The Court however added that MTN is still permitted by law to engage NCA on the implementation.
The Ministry of Communications in June this year, directed the National Communications Authority (NCA), to enforce provisions of the Electronic Communications Act, 2008 (Act 775) and the National Telecommunications Policy (NTP) to address disparities in market and revenue share in the telecommunications sector.
Following the directive, the NCA was expected to start an immediate implementation of specific policies to ensure a level-playing field for all network operators within the industry, with emphasis on maximizing consumer welfare as the growing dominance of MTN “has impacted negatively on competition and consumer choice, necessitating corrective action.”
But in a statement issued on Friday 26th June, 2020, MTN Ghana said although there were ongoing discussions with the regulatory authority to decide the way forward, NCA has already began implementation of the specified policies, hence, its decision to finally seek redress at the law court, after it was officially notified of the decision.