Ghana sets new rules for MTN following its market dominance

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Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA) has set new rules for mobile network giant, MTN Ghana, following the declaration as a Significant Market Power (SMP).

NCA recently declared MTN Ghana as significant market power and therefore suggested plans to implement specific policies to ensure a level playing field for all telecom service providers in the country.

With the country’s 23.9 million voice subscriptions, the telecom giant is reportedly controlling 57% of the subscriber market share in Ghana, miles ahead of Vodafone, AirtelTigo, and Glo at 21.97%, 20.3%, and 1.75% respectively.

Despite the presence of 52 Internet service providers and 3 other telcos, MTN still enjoys 67% of the country’s data market and currently leads the country’s fast-growing mobile money sector.

The country’s national communications authority has therefore set policies that will ensure favourable competition and more investments in the country’s telecom sector and these include;

  1. 30% Asymmetrical Interconnection Rate: For the next two years, MTN Ghana will receive 30% less for traffic from other mobile operators to its network. That is, the charges the other mobile operators will have to pay MTN per minute for voice call or per text message from their subscribers to those on MTN would be 30% less than the rate MTN would be expected to pay for traffic to other networks.
  2. Price Ceilings: MTN Ghana will also be restricted from pricing its voice, data, SMS and mobile money services less than its stated default rate as part of a promotion – unless NCA approves it. MTN Ghana would be expected to submit every pricing plan or package to the NCA for approval before they can be implemented.
  3. On-net off-net differentials: MTN Ghana will be expected to charge the same for call and SMS between MTN to MTN communication and MTN to other networks. Calls to the same networks are usually cheaper than to other networks but under the new law, MTN Ghana will be compelled to charge the same price.
  4. National Roaming: MTN Ghana will also be expected to open up its networks in a way that allows other networks to tap into and connect in areas where the other networks may not have coverage/reception. MTN Ghana can, however, agree on a roaming fee with the networks. So, if a Vodafone customer, for instance, goes to an area where there is no Vodafone coverage, but there is MTN coverage, MTN is required to allow that Vodafone customer to access its network and be able to communicate via both voice and data.

These policies are currently not being enforced as MTN Ghana pushed the case to the Supreme Court, seeking a judicial review and insisting that there was a breach of procedural fairness.

The Commercial High Court in Accra later dismissed the case brought before it by MTN Ghana, challenging the decision by the National Communications Authority (NCA) to declare MTN as a Significant Market Power (SMP) in Ghana.

In dismissing the suit, the Court held that there is sufficient evidence of consultation for the NCA to act as it did and that NCA did not act contrary to law. The Court said that the opportunity offered to MTN to make inputs by way of data fulfils 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.

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