Pressure group, Occupy Ghana has written to the Office of the Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, and the Bank of Ghana, requesting for details of the contract signed between the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and Sibton Switch Systems Limited to provide a mobile money interoperability platform.

The deal, signed under the previous administration, would have cost the country 4.6 billion cedis but was abrogated by the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration.

The contract was then awarded to the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GHIPSS) who executed the project for 4.6 million dollars.

Occupy Ghana has also requested for details of the contract signed with GHIPSS in their letter which also included the Chief of Staff as a recipient.

“OccupyGhana® respectfully writes to formally request for copies of contract documents and agreements between the Bank of Ghana (BoG) and Sibton Switch Systems Limited in relation to the Mobile Money Interoperability contract abrogated by the current Government of Ghana. We specifically require documents relating to and surrounding the termination of the Sibton Contract.”

We, additionally, request to be furnished with all relevant documents pertaining to the new contract signed with the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems Limited (GhIPSS) to execute the Mobile Money Interoperability project.”

The deals have come under the spotlight in recent days after the new platform was launched by Dr Bawumia, with many criticising the previous government of inflating the cost of the project.

However, the Deputy Minister of Finance who supervised the Sibton deal, Cassiel Ato Forson has defended the amount stating that the comparison is grossly misplaced as the former was more sophisticated.

“When we are communicating, there is the need for us to be truthful to the people of this country. They are saying that the system that they have just developed is the same as what the Central Bank had engaged Sibton to do. Indeed that cannot be that case, and that is not the case. In fact, the original system that the Bank of Ghana had wanted to engage Sibton to do had to connect all payment systems and also to link the likes of GhanaLink including Mobile Money…. So you have picked mobile money as a system and tried to create interoperability and tried to make it look like it is the same.”

However, the Vice President has since justified the abrogation of the initial deal, saying the country is getting more at less cost under the reviewed deal.

“One company bid GHC 14 million and another company, for the same scope of work, bid 5 million Ghana cedis A third company, for the same scope of work, bid 4.6 billion Ghana cedi and guess who won? 4.6 billion cedis won that bid.

“What are we trying to provide? And we have been able to do it for 4.5 million dollars and we have become the leading country in interoperability.”

A tale of two deals

In 2016, it was reported that Bank of Ghana had awarded private company Sibton Switch Ltd. a GH¢4.6 billion contract to build a system which would “among other things serve as a single window for all e-payment transactions….to increase penetration and enhance payment delivery channels”.

But telecom companies opposed the arrangement.

The Vice President was subsequently petitioned by Citi FM to review or revoke the deal which may have been overpriced.

Dr Bawumia finally announced in late 2017 that the contract with Sibton was cancelled and that the Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS), a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Central Bank was asked to implement the system.

Meanwhile, a former Deputy Governor of the Bank of Ghana (BoG) believes the new system launched by Bawumia is different in scope from the original contract, hence the disparity in the cost.

Speaking at a news conference in Accra on Monday, the former Deputy Governor who resigned from the Bank last year said it would be erroneous to compare to the system Sibton Switch was contracted to build to what was recently launched.

“I am out of office, and I cannot say what is being done now, but if I look at the details and scope of work in the original contract as stated here, it goes far beyond what was launched last week… It is like comparing antelope and an elephant. I am not sure the price will be same,” he said.