The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT), has promised a handsome reward for citizens who report the activities of unscrupulous people involved in stealing telecommunication equipment and materials at cell sites.

Dr Kenneth Ashigbey, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Chamber who announced this in Kumasi, said such whistle-blowers would receive an additional reward if culprits are successfully prosecuted.

He was addressing a press conference on the increasing theft of telecommunication equipment at cell sites and its impact on the industry, national security, and businesses in Kumasi.

Dr Kenneth Ashigbey disclosed that since August, 2020, 115 theft cases on active equipment alone had been recorded, according to data from the three major telecommunication companies.

“The centre of activity so far is Kumasi in the Ashanti Region and a lot of this is concentrated around the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology enclave,” he noted.

He said 43.5 per cent of all the incidents happened in the Ashanti Region, surpassing the Greater Accra Region, which recorded 15.7 percent despite having more cell sites than any other region.

Dr Ashigbey said the telecommunication companies used to experience fiber cuts and theft of fuel and batteries at cell sites, but they are now confronted with a new challenge, which had to do with the theft of active and passive equipment at the sites, thereby, disrupting service delivery.

“The interesting thing is that the theft of some of these equipment might affect more than one cell site depending on the configuration of the particular site,” he pointed out.

He said the difficulty is that they have been able to target where the thieves are likely to sell the fuel and batteries, but tracking the equipment being stolen is a herculean task.

“From the way these people are working, they are technicians, engineers and people who are knowledgeable in the industry, because they do not just vandalize but actually decommission the site,” he described the expertise of the perpetrators.

Dr Ashigbey mentioned the disruption of the supply chain for some of the equipment due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that some manufacturers are no more producing equipment that supports 3G as some of the factors driving the menace.

“With all of these things that we are talking about, if we do not deal with the market and the big men who are patronizing the equipment, then we are fighting a losing battle,” he suggested.

He said the Chamber is collaborating with the Intelligence Agencies including those at the border posts in order to be able to identify those behind what he described as an organised crime.

The CEO lamented that the problem, if not holistically dealt with, would not only affect quality of service but also have serious implications on national security, businesses as well as revenue generation by the Government.

“We cannot allow these nation wreckers to continue doing what they are doing, because the impact on us is very severe, so we are collaborating with all security and intelligence agencies to address the problem,” he emphasized.