Member of Parliament, Bunkpurugu Constituency, Abed-Nego Bandim, has called on the National Communications Authority (NCA) to collaborate with the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ORC) for early detection of companies venturing into ICT.
According to him, the attention of his office and that of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) in Parliament has been drawn to a press statement issued by the National Communications Authority (NCA) dated 7th December 2023, on the operation of Starlink internet services in Ghana.
He revealed that with Starlink being the largest satellite network globally, which operates Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellites to provide high-speed internet, supporting activities like streaming, online gaming, and video calls, the (NCA) is clearly several generations behind tracking such state-of-the-art satellite technology.
Mr Bandim stated that an Authority such as the NCA should have the power to stamp its authority within its jurisdiction on anything that is going wrong within its mandate.
To this end, he questioned whether it is possible that ordinary folk and election observers can use Starlink’s services to track in real time the movement of ballot boxes and pink sheets so as to ensure free, fair and transparent elections devoid of acrimony and disputes.
Additionally, he contended that Starlink has been in orbit since 2019, a period of four years when the NCA has been caught belly up and only stargazing. Worst still, he stated that NCA’s press release failed to address squarely the instant Starlink dilemma.
In the instant NCA press release which has gone viral, Mr Bandim justified the need for internet connectivity across the country, and not just urban areas. With his, he revealed that ordinary folks in the countryside where rural telephony is lacking are reportedly using Starlink’s services to carry on with their lives.
Starlink, he highlighted, should, therefore, be brought to the discussion table with the aim of getting them to regularise their operations.
“I further suggest that the NCA should collaborate with the Office of the Registrar of Companies (ORC) for early detection of companies venturing into ICT.”Abed-Nego Bandim
Furthermore, Mr Bandim expressed that even if Starlink has started fully operating in Ghana as reported, or it is to start operating in April 2024 as reported, he questioned whether the NCA has the capacity to track such operations.
He acknowledged that there could be other companies with similar technologies such as Starlink’s, or with non-GPS technology which could be operating within Ghana’s territorial space silently without the knowledge of the NCA.
“After all, what is wrong with making a phone call or using the internet to prepare your classroom lesson notes in the rural Nakpanduri/Bunkpurugu district within my constituency – if it is available from whichever source? Consequently, the national security implications of the instant matter cannot be overemphasized. Therefore, the NCA must wake up now and become more proactive rather than reactive.”Abed-Nego Bandim
Proposed tax auditing of ICT companies
Touting the strength of Starlink, Mr Bandim stated that through its cutting-edge satellites and user equipment, along with extensive expertise in space technology and operations, Starlink, owned by Elon Musk who needs no introduction, the company offers fast and responsive internet access to users worldwide.
For instance, he explained that Starlink has played a significant role in the Russia-Ukraine war, whereas independent analysts can equally use Starlink’s technology to track which party is committing war crimes in real time and at precise locations.
Additionally, Mr Bandim expressed that the regular Mobile Network Operators such as MTN, Vodafone and AirtelTiGo use terrestrial systems such as broadband technology and mount masts across the country for cellular voice and data services.
“In other words, it is possible that Starlink has satellite systems well above and beyond Ghana’s airspace but in compliance with international law. Some reputable sources suggest that Starlink is already operating in Ghana with an internet speed of up to 100Mbps.”Abed-Nego Bandim
Moreover, the Bunkpurugu legislator emphasized the need for the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA), on the other hand, to also assist via tax auditing of companies in ICT.
He noted that the NCA cannot afford to be losing out on licenses and other regulatory fees as a result of illegal activities within the ICT space.