Over the years, some persons have reinvented themselves as public intellectuals. In spite of their academic and professional achievements, they have not been duly appreciated and remain largely ordinary because of their inconsistencies and hypocritical stance on serious national issues.
Their admirable attempt to redefine the way we usually think about national issues in Ghana is, so far, unsuccessful. Even worse, many Ghanaians who hitherto, revered them, now consider them as propagandists of the politicians and opportunists. With respect to the responsibility of these so called intellectuals and neutrals, there are still, equally disturbing questions. Per what we saw them do under the Mills/Mahama administrations, they are in a position to expose the lies of this administration and future administrations, to analyse actions according to their causes and motives and often hidden intentions. The responsibilities of our intellectuals are much deeper that what Macdonald calls the “responsibility of people” given the unique privileges that these intellectuals and their so called neutrals enjoy.
Martin Heidegger writing in a pro-Hitler declaration of 1933, wrote that “truth is the revelation of that which makes a people certain, clear and strong in its action and knowledge”
The deceit, misrepresentations, distortions surrounding the interoperability issue is sickening. It is of no particular interest that Dr Bawumia is quite happy to lie in behalf of his Government’s cause which he knows to be unjust, but it is significant that such events provoke so little response in the intellectual community- for example, no one has said that there is something strange in the his digital addressing system, his allegation that the Mahama administration in connivance with the Bank of Ghana, agreed to pay GHC 4.6 billion to Sibton when they know that the Bank of Ghana is an autonomous body and responsible for its actions.
I just read a piece authored by my respected Lawyer and someone I admire highly in connection with the interoperability saga. In the piece, he stated that the Ghc 4.6 billion was going to be paid by Ghanaians “you and i”. I don’t know if the hidden motive is inciting the public against the erstwhile Mahama administration, or was just in his revolutionary elements. I would have clapped for him if he had pointed out same analogy when his government started issuing the bonds. Who said Ghanaians aren’t going to pay for the longterm bonds he and his friends are calling on Ghanaians to celebrate. I am not an economist but common sense tells me that there is a greater probability that interest rates will rise- and thus negatively affect a bond’s market price within a longer time period than within a shorter period. As a result, investors who buy longterm bonds but then attempt to sell them before maturity may be faced with a deeply discounted market price when they want to sell their bonds. These intellectuals are aware of this negative effect but are calling on Ghanaians to celebrate what they describe as an unprecedented move by this administration. Who are going to pay for the interest on these loans and bonds over the period (duration). I don’t think Nigerians are going to pay for the interests- the same “you and i” approach.
I know Ace and his friends would have scrutinised the Bawumia Interoperability Contract well well if it was signed under John Mahama and would have been on all the major radio and television platforms to incite Ghanaians against the deal. What are we seeing now. They are not concerned about clauses and other arrangements in the contract. It is still the usual approach- let’s go after Mahama and his government. We need people like Ace and others- we cannot underestimate their contribution to our national discourse hence the worry we express constantly whenever they take bias stance on serious national issues.
We have different types interoperability- beyond the normal interoperability operations, we are being told by people in the industry that other system can offer other services including the ability to automatically interpret the information exchanged meaningfully and accurately in order to produce useful results as defined by the end users of both systems. We have the cross domain interoperability which involves multiple social, organisational, political, legal entities working together for a common interest. Ace on his Facebook wall post deliberately avoided the technical areas. May be, the technical experts must jump in and offer all of us the needed technical education.
Ace should find out from Dr Bawumia whether the his version of the interoperability system has direct oversight link over operations of all the banks or only for the mobile money operations. What I know is that in the previous arrangement, all the banks were to be integrated to ensure accurate and smooth monitoring operations by the Central Bank. Can the system (Bawumia’s interoperability) run application programs from different vendors and outlets, and to interact with other systems or computers across local or wide area networks regardless of their physical architecture and operating systems? Ace and his friends must educate us well to understand all these hidden components in the contract.
This is the phase 1 per the facts presented to us. Can they tell us what the other phases entail, the projected cost, and other relevant information we may need to support of debates going forward.
Ghana is not the first country to have entered into that longterm interoperability deal. In fact, all countries operating the system including Kenya, Tanzania, Indonesia etc, all adopted same approach and the cost is going to be paid over a period by the telecos etc. What the previous administration (Bank of Ghana) agreed establish would have been more powerful and higher in terms of performance than the systems in Kenya and Tanzania. And even at that level in Tanzania, interoperability now accounts for over 30% of the person-to-person transaction. The Kenyan system is similar to the Tanzania model using a multi lateral agreement for the rules and connecting bi-laterally on the technical level. The model the previous administration agreed to implement would have ensured a central switch through which all transactions could be routed and enable a more efficient way to clear and settle transactions based on a net-settlement mechanism. This in turn would have enabled the operators to free up funds that otherwise would have been tied up in pre-funded accounts.
Look at the way our friends channeled all their energies into the SMATYYS deal. Compare the amount which was involved in that deal to the contract signed by Bawumia and his group. And my friends are not interested in the inherent clauses including amount paid so far, the services their model is going to offer, the standard, the short to longterm benefits or otherwise etc. Discussing the contract is not an issue to them. Their focus is on how to nail the Mahama administration with their bogus legal theories which have nothing to do with the issue on the table.
SHIFTING THEIR ARGUMENT –
The impression the Bawumia per his submission created in the minds of Ghanaians was that the Bank of Ghana under the John Mahama administration, agreed to pay GHC 4.6 billion to Sibton. This erroneous impression angered the public and propagandists of government started running left- right- center with it. Gabby Otchere-Darko on his Facebook wall, started a misleading sermons asking his readers how many schools the Ghc 4.6 billion could build. This is not only misleading, but wicked and primitive. In Tanzania and Madagascar, operators are committed to interoperability based on mutually beneficial revenue sharing agreement. We must know all these technicalities to inform our discussions. In Tanzania, Madagascar etc the target is that in future they expect that interoperability will extend beyond P2P money transfer to other use cases such as bill payment, merchant payments, salary payments and cast-in and cash out transactions. Ace and his friends have not considered the possible challenges customers, operators, the central bank and operators in the industry will face with the introduction of interoperability. On a broader level, by lowering the usage of cash in the society, interoperability will help the government to lower the cost of managing cash. Interconnect between banks and mobile money providers in addition to providing account to account interoperability, mobile money providers are also going to connect with banks to enable money transfers between bank account to mobile money account and mobile money account to bank account.
This was reason behind the decision by the previous handlers of the deal, to integrat all the banks into the system to facilitate effective monitoring and supervision of all the banks.
The danger is- gradually, all these persons who were revered and respected by the public are eroding the respect we accord them. People no more struggle to get their articles for consumption. We struggled for our lanterns and candles during dumsor to enable us read their articles because of the respect we had for them…can we say same today?