Investigative journalist Manasseh Azure Awuni has raised concerns about a contract awarded to a company by name Next Gen Infraco Ltd. by the Communications Ministry to rollout Ghana's 5G infrastructure.

In a Facebook post on Thursday, May 30, Mr Azure highlighted that the company was incorporated less than a week before President Akufo-Addo granted executive approval for the deal.

He maintained that the timing raises eyebrows, considering the significant nature of the contract.

Mr Awuni pointed out that the contract, which experts estimate to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars, was awarded through sole sourcing, without giving other companies the opportunity to bid for the project.

He maintained that the lack of competitive bidding raises suspicions about the transparency and fairness of the procurement process.

The journalist questioned the track record of Next Gen Infraco Ltd. and expressed doubts about its capacity to effectively execute such a significant contract.

Given the company's recent incorporation and limited history, he raised concerns regarding its ability to deliver on the project's requirements efficiently and reliably.

"President Akufo-Akufo-Addo "granted Executive Approval on 22nd August 2023 for the introduction of 5G through the establishment of a neutral, wireless open access network to promote a vibrant telecom market in Ghana."

"The company that has been handed the deal was formed less than a week before the president's approval."

"The 5G technology, according to industry experts, can be worth hundreds of millions of dollars. Why is it being handed to one company without an auction?" the revered award-winning journalist quizzed.

Government to roll out 5G services by the end of 2024

Before Manasseh Azure's claim, the government had announced a partnership with seven industry leaders to develop a new shared infrastructure aimed at delivering affordable 5G mobile broadband services across Ghana. The seven partners include Ascend Digital, K-NET, Radisys, Nokia, Tech Mahindra, and two telecommunications companies – AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana.

Government said these partners have formed the Next-Gen Infrastructure Company (NGIC), which has been awarded a 5G license. NGIC is expected to launch 5G services across Ghana within the next six months, with plans for further expansion into other parts of Africa.

The government said NGIC will be the first entity to build a nationwide 4G/5G network, and it will collaborate with telcos to introduce affordable 4G/5G-enabled fixed wireless access (FWA) customer premises equipment (CPE) and smartphones in Ghana this year.

The partnership aims to enhance the lives of Ghanaians by introducing digital services in education, healthcare, and digital payment transactions through peer-to-peer (P2P), peer-to-merchant (P2M), and merchant-to-merchant (M2M) systems. This initiative is expected to reduce the digital divide and promote financial inclusion.

Moreover, the multi-party partnership will support NGIC in the comprehensive deployment of network infrastructure and related services. Communications service providers (CSPs) aim to address both enterprise and consumer markets with enhanced digital services.

To facilitate this, Tech Mahindra will build a Cloud Native Core Network powered by leading original equipment manufacturer (OEM) platforms.

NGIC plans to adopt India's successful model of affordable handsets, digital platforms, and localized content and applications. The objective is to replicate this high-speed mobile data model across Africa, starting with Ghana.

Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said, “The creation of a shared 5G Mobile Broadband Infrastructure is critical for delivering affordable, high-speed data access to the people of Ghana and help achieve our Digital Ghana vision."

"The creation of NGIC as a neutral, shared platform, accessible to all mobile network operators and tower companies, will help to expand 5G services rapidly across the country. We are inspired by India’s digital infrastructure and low-cost mobile data usage and keen to replicate it in Ghana.”

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DISCLAIMER: The Views, Comments, Opinions, Contributions and Statements made by Readers and Contributors on this platform do not necessarily represent the views or policy of Multimedia Group Limited.