MTN Sabotaging NPP Fundraising Efforts?

Ghana's leading telecommunications provider, MTN, says they are aware of media reports accusing them of sabotaging efforts by the opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) to raise funds by means of an SMS “short code”. MTN, has however given the assurance in an interview with that they will react appropriately to the concerns raised by the NPP as captured in the New Statesman publication. The New Statesman, on Wednesday, September 28th, published that MTN has over a year engaged in deliberate and calculated attempts to thwart the opposition NPP's efforts to acquire an SMS “short code” to serve as a means of raising funds in the run-up to the 2012 elections. According to the publication, the leadership of the NPP has engaged the various mobile telecommunications companies in a series of meetings to obtain a dedicated short-code to enable party members pay their dues as well as serving as a platform for members and the general public alike to contribute towards the party’s quest of winning election 2012. Tigo, Airtel, Expresso, and until recently Vodafone, have agreed to the NPP’s request of obtaining “2012” as its short-code for its stated purposes. However, MTN has still refused to co-operate with the party in approving the use of the “2012” short-code. Initially, management of MTN did not mince words as they told the party categorically that it could not give that specific SMS short-code to the party. “The chairman of the NPP, Jake Obestsebi-Lamptey, protested against this decision and prevailed on the Board of Directors of MTN to give accent to this request and the earlier decision was rescinded, thus paving the way for the acquisition of the SMS short-code from MTN,” our source at the NPP headquarters disclosed. However, two months after accent was given by the Board, MTN now insists that the NPP will have to sign an undertaking with the ruling National Democratic Congress before the SMS code would be released to the party. The undertaking, being proposed by MTN, will be for the NPP to agree to “share the short-code” with the NDC before this code will be activated for the NPP to use. Meanwhile, investigations carried out by the New Statesman indicate that the NDC has not made any proposal to MTN for such a short code. “Isn’t it humiliating and absurd? This is an insult and we believe there are some elements at the MTN who are doing this to frustrate the party,” a source within the NPP lamented. Initially, Vodafone was also said to have issued a similar proposal which was vehemently rejected by the leadership of the NPP. Reason prevailed and Vodafone agreed to the acquisition of “2012” short-code by the NPP. Accordingly, the NPP has decided that with or without the involvement of MTN, the party will go ahead with the launch of the SMS short-code service geared towards creating a convenient platform for party members, sympathisers and the general public to contribute towards the cause of the NPP in the 2012 elections. Our source further indicated that the party would advise all of its members to port from MTN to other networks so as to enable them contribute their widows might to the NPP, assuming MTN remains adamant in not releasing the 2012 short-code to the NPP. Seeking the thoughts of NPP vice chairman, Fred Oware, he stated that the NPP is still hopeful of acquiring the short-code from MTN before the party launches the service sometime before the end of this year. According to him, “Lots of Ghanaians want to contribute to the NPP because they believe in the party and the flag bearer’s vision for the country.” But an official of the mobile telecommunication giant, in an interview with said they have seen the publication and will issue an official response in the coming days.