The Bank of Ghana’s refusal to release data on mobile money transactions to the Communications Ministry has sparked a feud between the two entities.
The Communications Ministry in a series of letters had asked the Bank of Ghana to release the data to a private contractor, Kelni GVG, which has been tasked to verify the amount of revenue generated by telcos.
The Ministry specifically requested for disclosure of customer balances, transaction amounts, date and time of the transactions.
However, the Bank of Ghana declined to grant the Communication Ministry’s request, arguing in a letter signed by its Secretary, Frances Van-Hein, that disclosing such information will breach the guidelines of Electronic Money Issuers and Data Protection Act.
“The Bank’s attention has been drawn to an arrangement with Kelni GVG to monitor mobile money transactions in Ghana. This involves the disclosure of customer information including customer balances, transaction amounts, date and time of transactions. The provisions of the Guidelines of Electronic Money Issuers (2015) and the Data Protection Act 2012, Act 843, ensure customer privacy rights and this arrangement would amount to a breach of these legislations.
“The Bank of Ghana recognizes the need to continue to collaborate with regulators. However, this collaboration should not lead to a breach of financial regulation and data protection provisions. The oversight of mobile money operators which are subsidiaries of telecommunication companies falls under the purview of the Bank of Ghana. We therefore request that mobile money transactions which fall within the category of financial services should be exempted from the disclosure of such information,” the Bank of Ghana’s letter said.
The BOG subsequently asked telecom operators to disregard an earlier directive by the Communications Ministry requesting them to hand over the data.
But the Communications Ministry did not take the BoG’s position on its request lightly.
Expressing derision for the letter from the BoG, it stated that further communication from the Central Bank to the Ministry should be from the Governor.
In their response, the Ministry said in a letter that the “level of disrespect exhibited by the bank in this matter is simply appalling.”
Kelni GVG was contracted by the government to develop and oversee the Common Platform for traffic monitoring, revenue assurance and mobile money monitoring.
The implementation of the Common Platform is in line with the Communication Service Tax (Amendment) Act, 2013, Act 864.
A lot of the criticism of the deal, which is costing Ghana $89 million, has come from think tank IMANI Africa.
IMANI also raised privacy concerns while questioning the credibility of Kelni GVG.
It has maintained that this deal mirrors the controversial agreements the state entered into with Subah Infosolutions and Afriwave Telcom Ltd in 2010 and 2016 respectively.
IMANI had earlier petitioned the Vice President to revoke the contract.
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