The same contract to allow subscribers to send monies from their phones to all other mobile networks and banks and vice-versa has been done for barely ¢18 million.
Government has in effect saved the taxpayer some ¢990 million.
But the former deputy Governor at the Bank of Ghana, Dr Johnson Asiama, last Monday defended the 2016 decision to award the ¢4.6bn contract to Sibtonswitch deemed fishy and inflated.
He said the inter-operability service the BoG had wanted Sibtonswitch to implement was far bigger in scope than what had been announced by government even though he admitted he did not know the exact scope of the current system.
Dr Asiama argued out that comparing the cost of the project envisaged by the BoG in 2016 and the one launched last week was like comparing elephants and antelopes.
The information ministry responded to the technocrat’s explanation, insisting the cost constituted an “unjustified extortion”.
The vice-president, in what appears to be his style of hitting back, has also taken a bite, using his invitation as a special guest of honour at the launch of a new payment system by a private company, PaySwitch.
“I hope Payswitch, you didn’t spend ¢4.6bn on your development,” he laughed, asking the PaySwitch CEO in an apparent jab at the Mahama government and the former deputy BoG Governor.
“One company bid ¢14m…another company for the same scope of work bid ¢5m and yet another company …bid ¢4.6bn. And guess who won?” he invited the audience to see what government has said is a rip-off.
Dr Bawumia explained, the interoperability system in Ghana “has not been done in Africa”.
In countries like Kenya, Tanzania, the standard interoperability system in Africa allows subscribers to send money from their phones on one network to another without any third party player.
But what has been done in Ghana is to rope in the banks so that a subscriber can also send money from his phone to his bank account and vice versa, he explained.
In effect, a subscriber can send money to any mobile network and any bank linked to the system.
“We are doing something that is unique” he said and added that there are plans to also add E-Zwich payment system, which allows cashless payments for goods and services.
Laughing at the explanation offered by his former colleague, Dr Bawumia who was once a former deputy Governor wondered how it can be claimed that the ¢4.6bn contract was going to provide a much bigger scope than what is now a record in Africa.
“We have become the leading country in interoperability in Africa so what other scope were you thinking about?” he wanted to know.
“I mean what more do you want to do if you become the leading country as far as interoperability is concerned? What more scope are you going to provide?”, he mocked in his signature laughter.
After his extempore comments, he returned to his prepared speech. “I thought I would add that as an aside”, he said and followed his text.