By Gifty Arthur
Managing Director (MD) of the largest telecommunication giant MTN Ghana, Serame Taukobong, has expressed disquiet about high cost of doing business in the country presently revealing that the industry’s market leader, spends a total of GH¢2 Million monthly, to power it set-ups across the country.
The huge amount is spent on fuel to power their generating sets and according to the Corporate Services Executive, Cynthia Lumor, who chipped in, in the course of the MD’s presentation said, a chunk of the amount is not budgeted for, thereby, sending it budget out of gear.
“If we do not ensure continuous running of these equipment, it will impact our service delivery negatively and we do not want our customers to experience that. As a result, we always ensure that our generators are running constantly and that is impacting seriously on our cost”, he said.
The situation, according to the MD, is not sustainable and adds that something drastic would need to be done. He hinted about an impending increase in prizes in the telecommunication sector, whereas non-core essentials such as sponsorships and advertisements, would have to be trim down.
Aside the unreliable source of power, Mr. Taukobong said that customers would have to pay more, because of the rise in inflation, depreciation of the Cedi as he added most of their works are capital required and based on currencies.
“Ghana is among the countries with lowest cost of mobile communications. It is not sustainable for this to go on at this current rate”, he said.
This was made known when the company organized it maiden stakeholders and media forum nicknamed “The Editors Forum’ on Tuesday in Accra to share an overview of MTN’s business performmance in 2014 and focus for 2015, discussion on impact of MTN’s operations and contributions and the telecom’s industry to the Ghanaian economy. The meeting afforded the company, the opportunity to tell their successes, challenges and the way forward.
Due to the unending load shedding exercise experience across the country, coupled with the continual soar of operational costs and other factors, several companies, especially those from the industrial and mining sectors, have reportedly laid off some of their workers so as not to collapse.
Fortunately for MTN staff, Mr. Taukobong, said his outfit was yet to lay off workers in the wake of the reports of massive redundancy. Asked if the company was planning to cut off some of it work force, he said he could not emphatically confirm that except to add that he could not guarantee, because he did not know what the future holds.
MTN in 2015, made a total payment of GH¢605M to government, while it invested in 57 education projects, 30 health projects and 8 economic empowerment projects, as part of it Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
Other investments include, GH¢460 million to deal with network and IT investments, with about 90 per cent of the IT already underway.
Despite the challenges, he said, MTN would continue to invest in the company, roll out more Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) projects and assured customers quality and reliable service would not be compromised, adding they would be served with the best no matter their location in the country.
In the year under review, the company said, it passed all Quality of Service (QoS) monitoring tests conducted by the regulator, National Communications Authority (NCA).
On fibre cuts by members of the public, especially road contractors, he revealed that there has been a reduction, but entreated those who indulge in that activity to see these fibres as national assets.
He was more concerned about instances where, “people cut it and hide it”. Mr. Taukobong said it was dangerous, because even though he agreed that accidents do sometimes happen, but it was unacceptable to hide it as fibres serves as “backbone” and so “affects the quality of service” of the affected network.