There was a report out that Vodafone Ghana had partnered with telecom player Afrimax to get into the 4G LTE space in Ghana. However Vodafone Ghana denied that report.
But there are reports floating around that Vodafone has sent the National Communications Authority (NCA) a partnership proposal with Surfline to deploy 4G services. But NCA has stated that they cannot approve such a proposal because there is currently no policy or framework for partnerships at the moment.
Bummer for Vodafone.
Is The NCA Stifling Competition?
Not too long ago, MTN Ghana bought 4G spectrum from the NCA which enabled them to launch 4G LTE services in Ghana last year. But there were grumblings about the asking price. MTN had to pay $67 million for 800 Mhz spectrum to enable them rollout their 4G operations.
Vodafone has stated that they want to get into the 4G space but they feel like the asking price of $67 million is excessively high.
For comparison, MTN Nigeria paid $67 million for a 2600 Mhz 4G spectrum. The market for MTN Nigeria is about 60 million people.
Considering that Nigeria is a bigger country and basically paid for 2600 Mhz, the price in Ghana for 800 Mhz is a bit high*.
*(What’s the difference between 800 Mhz and 2600 Mhz? 800 Mhz is best for smaller and less dense areas and good coverage can be achieved with a single cell tower. 2600 Mhz works best for dense areas and requires more cell towers)*
Vodafone feels like the price for the 4G spectrum is more political than realistic. If you make the comparisons of price and size to Nigeria, their point seems validated.
There are other slots available for purchase of the 4G spectrum but at the moment those slots are sitting idle because the high price is likely keeping other telecom players from purchasing.
Vodafone is in talks with NCA to find a way to get into the 4G space but if the issue of high price for 4G still remains, the telecom company might not able to jump in and compete in the 4G space. With talks of Tigo and Airtel merging, there could be a proposal to purchase 4G spectrum by the combined entity. That would leave Vodafone in a bad spot.
Hopefully Vodafone will find a work around. They’re the second biggest telecom company in Ghana at the moment. MTN has a head start in the 4G LTE space and will only improve down the line. The faster Vodafone gets into the race, the quicker it can compete.
As of now, it seems like they’re facing a roadblock. That roadblock seems to be the National Communication Authority.