NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS AUTHORITY ACT - 1996 (ACT 524)
(1) There is established by this Act a body corporate to be known as the National Communications Authority in this Act referred to as "the Authority".
(2) The Authority shall have perpetual succession and a common seal and may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
(3) The Authority may for the discharge of its functions under this Act, acquire and hold any movable or immovable property, dispose of the property and enter into any contract or other transaction.
It shall be the responsibility of the Authority-
(a) to advise the Minister and the Minister for Information on policy formulation and development strategies for the communications industry;
(b) to ensure strict compliance with this Act and regulations made under it;
(c) to grant licence for the operation of communications system as defined in section 44;
(d) to assign, allocate and regulate the use of frequencies in conformity with international requirements pursuant to any relevant treaties, protocols or conventions to which Ghana is signatory;
(e) to prepare and review National Frequency Allocation Plan,
(f) to establish the national numbering plan and to assign numbers accordingly;
(g) to act internationally as the national body representing Ghana in respect of communications;
(h) to designate standards of communications equipment;
(i) to determine a code of practice relating to dealings by operators with international communications operators and regulate international accounting rates;
(j) to provide guidelines on tariffs chargeable for the provision of communications services;
(k) to provide where practicable, authorisations to operators of radio telephone stations on ships and aircraft registered in Ghana;
(l) to establish training standards for communications operators and to monitor the implementation of the training standards;
(m) to provide, where reasonably practicable, advice and assistance to operators in the communications industry in Ghana for which there may be charged such fees as the Authority considers appropriate;
(n) to maintain a register of operators;
(o) to establish, by regulations, the protection of data on computer files and their transmission and to safeguard the secrecy of communications and the protection of personal data in conjunction with communications systems operators; and
(p) to perform any other functions assigned to it under this Act or any other enactment.
(1) The Board shall ordinarily meet for the despatch of business at such times and such places as the Chairman may determine but shall meet at least once every three months.
(2) A special meeting of the Board shall be called upon a written request of not less than three members including a member appointed under section 5(2)(d).
(3) At every meeting of the Board the Chairman shall preside and in his absence a member, other than the Director-General, elected by the members present from among their number shall preside.
(4) Every question before a meeting of the Board shall be determined by a simple majority of members present and where there is equality of votes, the Chairman or the person presiding shall have a second or casting vote.
(5) The quorum for a meeting of the Board shall be three of the membership of the Board and shall include at least one member appointed under section 5(2)(d).
(6) The Board may co-opt such persons as it considers fit to attend any of its meetings, except that a co-opted person shall not be entitled to vote on any matter for decision by the Board.
(7) The validity of the proceedings of the Board shall not be affected by a vacancy in its membership or any defect in the appointment or qualification of a member.
(8) A member of the Board who has an interest in a contract, proposed to be entered into with the Authority shall disclose in writing to the Board the nature of his interest and shall be disqualified from participating in any deliberations of the Board in respect of the contract.
(9) A member of the Board who infringes subsection (8) of this section is liable to be removed from the membership of the Board.
(10) Except as otherwise provided for in this section, the Board shall regulate the procedure at its meetings.
Subject to the other provisions of this Act no person shall establish, install, operate or otherwise use a communications system or provide communications services in Ghana unless he has been granted a licence for that purpose by the Board.
A licence may only be granted to-
(a) a citizen of Ghana; or
(b) a body corporate registered under the Companies Code, 1963 (Act 179); or
(c) a partnership registered under the Incorporated Private Partnerships Act, 1962 (Act 152).
(1) The Board may by legislative instrument exempt from the requirement for licence such communications systems as it may determine
(2) Without prejudice to subsection (1) of this section the requirement for licence under section 9 shall not apply to-
(a) the acquisition or operation by any person for his own use or solely for the purpose of his business (but not for providing any communication service to another person) of communications system in which all the equipment comprised therein is situated-
(i) on a single set of premises in a single occupation; or
(ii) in a vessel, aircraft or vehicle mechanically coupled together,
(b) communications system of the security services, except that application for allocation of frequencies in the shared bands shall be submitted to the Authority through the office of the President ; and
(c) other communications system which does not require interconnection with any public communications system.
(1) The Authority shall grant the licence to an applicant where it is satisfied that the communications system in respect of which the application is made is technically, suitable for the service intended to be rendered and a licence for the operation of such system has not been granted exclusively to another operator in the public interest.
(2) An application under subsection (1) of this section shall be granted by the Board unless there are compelling reasons founded on technical data, national security, public safety or other reasonable justification which shall be communicated to the applicant.
(1) A licence granted by the Authority under section 13 shall be subject to such conditions as may be specified in the licence having regard to the objects and functions of the Authority.
(2) Without prejudice to subsection (1) of this section a licence granted under section 13 may include conditions requiring the operator-
(a) to interconnect to any communications system to which the licence relates or to permit the connection to his system or station of other communications system;
(b) to determine the tariffs, charges and the terms and conditions that are applicable to the provision of the services in the manner and at such times as may be specified in the licence;
(c) to publish, in such manner and at such times as may be specified in the licence, a notice indicating the method that is to be adopted for determining its charges and other terms and conditions that are to be applicable to the services provided;
(d) to pay to the Authority during the existence of the licence such fee as may be determined by the Authority;
(e) to provide to the Authority, in such manner and at such times as may be reasonably required, such documents, accounts, estimates, returns or other informations as the Authority may require for the purpose of exercising the functions conferred upon it under this Act;
(f) to operate the communications system in accordance with such standards of performance as the Authority considers appropriate pursuant to section 23 of this Act; and
(g) to do or not to do such things as are specified in the licence, unless written approval is given by the Authority.
(1) The Authority may, subject to this Act and any regulation made under it, modify any licence granted under this Act if the modification is permissible under the terms of the licence or is required in the public interest.
(2) No modifications shall be made under subsection (1) of this section unless the Authority has given at least 60 working days written notice-
(a) stating that the Authority proposes to make the modifications; and
(b) setting out the effect of the modifications.
(3) The Authority shall in all cases consider any representations or objections that are made to it before the modifications are made.
(4) A notice under subsection (2) shall be given by publication in such manner as the Authority considers appropriate for the purposes of bringing the matters to which the notice relates to the attention of persons likely to be affected by them and by sending a copy of the notice to the operator.
(5) The Authority shall compensate the operator for any expense incurred or damage caused as a result of modification to a licence made under subsection (1) of this section.
(1) The Authority may monitor the use of any communications equipment to determine the standard of performance of the equipment.
(2) Where any person operates a communications system in such a manner as to cause damage to the equipment or to the operations of another operator, the matter may be referred by either party to the Authority which shall determine the matter and award such compensation to the aggrieved persons as the Authority considers just and fair in the circumstances of the case.
(3) Subsection (2) of this section is without prejudice to the rights of the parties to institute action in the courts.
(1) Subject to the approval of the Authority and subject to such terms as may be agreed upon by the parties, an operator may interconnect his communications system to the communications system of another operator.
(2) The Authority shall, at the request of either operator or both set up an arbitration panel under the Arbitration Act, 1961 (Act 38) where the parties concerned cannot reach an agreement under subsection (1) of this section.
(3) The Authority may by legislative instrument make regulations on the terms and conditions of interconnection of communications systems.
(1) The Authority may, where it is satisfied that an operator is not complying with or has not complied with any of the conditions of his licence, suspend or cancel the licence.
(2) No suspension or cancellation shall be made under subsection (1) of this section unless the Authority has given the operator a written notice specifying in it the cause for dissatisfaction of the Authority and giving directions for rectification of the breach and the action proposed to be taken by the Authority in the event of non-compliance with the notice.
(3) The Authority shall not suspend or cancel a licence under this section without first giving the operator an opportunity of being heard and shall where considered appropriate, give him such period as the Authority considers reasonable to comply with the directions of the Authority.
(4) In determining whether it is necessary to suspend or cancel a licence granted under this Act, the Authority shall consider the extent to which any person is likely to sustain loss or damage as a result of the suspension or cancellation.
(5) A licence which is not utilised within two years from the date of its grant may be cancelled by the Authority after notice of not less than 30 days has been served on the operator.
(1) A person aggrieved by the refusal of the Authority to grant or renew his licence under this Act or by the modification, suspension or cancellation of a licence granted under this Act may in writing appeal to the Minister who shall within 30 days of receipt of the appeal make a decision thereon.
(2) A person dissatisfied with the decision of the Minister may appeal to the High Court.
(1) The Authority may determine such standards of over-all performance or specific standards of performance in relation to the provision of communications services by an operator as in the opinion of the Authority ought to be achieved by that operator and arrange for the publication of the standards in such form and in such manner as the Authority considers appropriate.
(2) The Authority may only make a determination under subsection (1)-
(a) after consulting with the operator concerned and persons or bodies that appear to the Authority to be representative of the persons likely to be affected; and
(b) after arranging for such research as the Authority considers appropriate with a view to discovering the views of a representative sample of persons likely to be affected and considering the results.
(3) For the purposes of this section the Authority may determine-
(a) circumstances in which the operator is to inform persons of their rights under this Act;
(b) such standards of performance in relation to any duty under this Act as, in the opinion of the Authority, ought to be achieved in all cases;
(c) circumstances in which the operator is to be exempted from any requirements pursuant to this section.
(4) If the operator fails to meet any required standards, he shall pay to any person who is adversely affected by the failure such compensation as may be determined by the Authority.
(5) The requirement for payment of compensation under this section in respect of any failure to meet the required standard does not preclude any other remedy at law which may be available or any other measure that may be taken or sanctions that may be imposed by the Authority in respect of the act or omission which constituted that failure.
(6) Any dispute arising from the application of this section may be referred to the Board by either party for determination by the Board.
(1) The Authority shall collect information in relation to-
(a) the compensation paid by operators under section 23; and
(b) the levels of overall performance achieved by the operators in relation to the provision of communication services.
(2) At such times as the Authority may direct, each operator shall give the following information to the Authority-
(a) in relation to each standard determined under section 23, the number of cases in which compensation was made and the aggregate amount or value of that compensation;
(b) in relation to each standard determined under section 23, such information with respect to the level of performance achieved by the operator as may be specified.
(3) An operator who without reasonable excuse fails to comply with a direction under subsection (2) of this section commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine of not less than c200,000.00 or imprisonment for a term of not less than six months or to both.
The Authority shall publish in the Gazette and in such other newspapers of national circulation as the Authority may determine, notice of every licence, modification, suspension or cancellation of licence made under this Act; except that publication of a modification, suspension or cancellation of a licence shall not be made where an objection or an appeal has been lodged with the Authority, the Minister or the court.
(1) The Authority may on receipt of an application under this Act assign or allocate a frequency to the applicant and shall for that purpose take into account all technical data of the equipments of the applicant and also have due regard to the rights and freedoms of other persons.
(2) An application under subsection (1) shall be granted by the Authority unless there are compelling reasons founded on technical data, national security, public safety or other reasonable justification which shall be communicated to the applicant.
(3) The Authority shall in assigning or allocating frequencies under this section take into account-
(a) the availability of frequencies;
(b) the distribution of communications stations as between urban, rural, commercial or other categorisation;
(c) the technical characteristics of the equipment involved and its capability to interconnect with other communications equipment and networks.
(4) Without prejudice to subsection (3) of this section the Authority in assigning or allocating frequencies shall in the public interest-
(a) classify radio stations;
(b) determine the location of classes of stations or individual stations and approve their call signs;
(c) assign bands of frequencies to the various classes of stations and assign frequencies for each individual station and determine the power which each station shall use and the time during which it may operate;
(d) modify frequencies;
(e) establish areas or zones to be served by any station as appropriate having regard to the efficient allocation of frequencies;
(f) prescribe and publish such regulations applicable to radio stations engaged in chain broadcasting as may be conducive to the efficient allocation of frequencies;
(g) designate standards of equipment to be used with respect to the external sharpness of the emissions from each station and from the equipment in it; and
(h) ensure avoidance of harmful emission, interference or illegal broadcasting.
(5) Nothing contained in this Act shall permit the modification, suspension or cancellation of a frequency assigned by the Authority to an operator because of views or opinions expressed through the medium of the operator unless the view or opinion is a breach of the conditions of his licence.
(1) Every operator shall establish a procedure for dealing with complaints by his customers or potential customers in relation to the provision by the operator of the relevant communication services.
(2) No procedure shall be established and no modification of the procedure shall be made, unless -
(a) the operator has consulted persons or bodies that constitute a fair representation of customers for whom he provides the services: and
(b) the proposed procedure or modification has been approved by the Authority.
(3) The operator shall publicise the approved procedure in such a manner as the Authority may require and send a description of the procedure, free of charge to any person who asks for it.
(4) The Authority may direct the operator to review his procedure or the manner in which he operates and make modifications to that procedure.
(1) Any dispute between a customer and an operator in which it is alleged that the operator-
(a) has exercised undue discrimination against a customer in respect of charges or terms applied, or to be applied for the provision of the service in question; or
(b) has shown undue preference to any other person in respect of the charges or terms to the detriment of the customer; or
(c) has applied, or proposes to apply, any charge related to the provision of the service to the customer which is not authorised in accordance with this Act, may be referred to the Authority by either party.
(2) Where a dispute is referred to the Authority under subsection (1) of this section, the Board or a person appointed by the Board shall determine whether the allegation is well founded and if it is, make such determination as is appropriate together with a statement of reasons for the determination made.
(3) No act or omission of an operator which is authorised by any condition included in his licence shall be taken to constitute undue discrimination or undue preference for the purposes of this section.
(4) The procedures to be followed in determining a dispute referred to under this section shall be prescribed by the Authority in regulations made under this Act.
(1) An operator may, subject to such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon between the operator and the owner or occupier of any land, enter the land temporarily and remain on the land for a reasonable time for the purpose of-
(a) Supplying, erecting or maintaining communications services or facilities;
(b) surveying or obtaining relevant information on the land;
(c) determining whether the land is suitable for his purposes.
(2) Nothing in subsection (1) of this section permits an operator to enter any land which is a burial ground or occupied by anything held to be sacred or the object of veneration except for the purpose of removing a danger to life or property.
(3) On entering any land under this section, the operator shall take such reasonable care as may be practicable and shall-
(a) restore all affected structures and services to their normal state of repair;
(b) remove all dirt and debris resulting from the activities in subsection (1) from the site; and
(c) pay compensation for any damage caused on the land.
(4) The amount of compensation payable under subsection (3) of this section shall be determined by agreement between the parties and if the parties are unable to reach an agreement on the compensation payable, the matter may be referred to the Board which shall in consultation, with the body charged with the valuation of government land determine the compensation payable.
(1) The Authority shall establish and keep a register in such form as the Board may determine and shall record in it-
(a) licences issued under this Act and the relevant conditions;
(b) suspensions and cancellation of licences;
(c) designated standards of communications equipment; and
(d) such other information relating to operators as the Board considers appropriate.
(2) Where it appears to the Board that the entry of any condition in the register would be contrary to the public interest or the commercial interest of any person, the Board may decide not to enter that condition in the register.
(3) The register shall be open for public inspection during such hours and subject to the payment of such fee as may be determined by the Board.
(4) Any person may, on payment of the fee require the Authority to supply to him an extract from any part of the register.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, the Board may in writing appoint inspectors.
(2) An inspector appointed under this Act shall carry out such functions as the Board may determine for the purpose of giving full effect to this Act.
(3) An inspector appointed under this Act may at all reasonable times enter any premises which he reasonably suspects to be used for a purpose to which this Act applies to inspect the premises or generally to carry out any function imposed upon him under this Act or to ensure that the provisions of this Act are complied with.
(1) The Board may by legislative instrument make regulations generally for the purpose of giving effect to the provisions of this Act and may in particular, make regulations in relation to the following-
(a) technical standards for provision of communications services;
(b) accreditation of test houses;
(c) guidelines and rules on tariffs and on international accounting rates;
(d) the issue, conditions, duration, suspension or revocation of any licence or frequency;
(e) terms and conditions of interconnection of communication systems;
(f) cabling, cellular, trunking, reforming, personal communications network (P.C.N.), specialised mobile radio (S.M.R.), communication satellite system including low earth orbiting satellite (L.E.O.S.), integrated services digital network (I.S.D.N.), radio and television broadcasting and any other means of communications;
(g) the use of communications stations or equipment including equipment on board any vehicle, vessel or aircraft within Ghana or its territorial waters or Flight Information Region (FIR);
(h) the issue of certificates or licence held by operators of ships, aircraft radio telephone stations (including any station on board any ship or aircraft registered in Ghana or present in Ghana whether registered in Ghana or not);
(i) the appointment of examiners and the conduct of examinations for the purpose of granting certificates or licences under paragraph (h) of this subsection;
(j) the qualification of candidates for examinations and class of certificates and any other matter connected with the examinations under paragraph (i) of this subsection;
(k) the national numbering plan; and
(l) anything to be prescribed by regulations under this Act.
(2) There may be imposed for the contravention of any provision in regulations made under subsection (1) a fine not exceeding c5 million or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 2 years or to both.
(3) Without prejudice to subsection (1) of this section the Board may from time to time issue technical manuals relating to specifications of communications equipment and every person shall comply with the specifications provided in the manuals.
(4) A legislative instrument issued under this section shall be under the signature of the Chairman of the Board or in his absence the person for the time being acting as Chairman.
(1) Any person who-
(a) installs, establishes or operates any communications system without licence from the Authority as provided under this Act; or
(b) uses any frequency when it has not been assigned or allocated to him by the Authority under this Act; or
(c) unlawfully destroys or damages any communications equipment; or
(d) uses communications equipment for the purpose of interfering with any communications station; or
(e) intentionally and unlawfully intercepts communications not intended for the general public, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of not less than c1 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or to both on first conviction; and to a fine of not less than c5 million or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years or to both for subsequent conviction.
(2) Where an offence created under this Act or any regulations made under it is committed by a body corporate or by a member of a partnership or other firm, every director or officer of that body corporate or any member of the partnership or other person concerned with the management of the firm shall also be guilty of the offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine of not less than c1 million for the offence and shall in addition be liable to the payment of compensation for any damage resulting from the breach unless he proves to the satisfaction of the court that-
(a) he exercised due diligence to secure compliance with the provisions of the Act; and
(b) the offence was committed without his knowledge, consent or connivance.
(3) Where an offence is committed under section 43 (1)(a) or (b) of this Act, the court which convicts the offender may order the forfeiture of any equipment used in the commission of the offence.
In this Act unless the context otherwise requires-
"Authority" means the National Communications Authority established by section 1 of this Act;
"Board" means the governing body of the Authority;
"Chairman" means the Chairman of the Board;
"communications" means any transmission, emission, or reception of signs, signals, writing, images, sounds or intelligence of any nature through a communications system;
"communications equipment" means any equipment or apparatus for the purpose of or intended to be used for communications as part of or comprising a communications system;
"communications service" includes the provision of any such service through a communications system for the transmission or routing of signals or a combination of these functions,
"communications station" means one or more transmitters or receivers or a combination of transmitters and receivers including the accessory equipments necessary at one location for carrying out communications service;
"communications system" means a system for the conveyance through the agency of electric, magnetic, electro-magnetic, electro-chemical or electro-mechanical energy, light energy of-
(a) speech, music and other sounds;
(b) visual images;
(c) signals serving for imparting (whether as between persons and things) of any matter in the form of sounds or visual images;
(d) signals serving for the actuation or control of machinery or apparatus; and
(c) includes communications equipment situated in Ghana; and
(i) connected to but not comprised in a communications system; or
(ii) connected to and comprised in a communications system which extends beyond the boundaries of Ghana;
"consumer or customer" means any person who is, or wishes to be provided with any relevant communications service by an operator;
"frequency" means radio frequency;
"Minister" means the Minister responsible for Transport and Communications;
"National Frequency Allocation Plan" means a frequency allocation plan prepared and issued by the Authority based on the International Telecommunication Union Final Act of the World Radio Administrative Conference;
"national numbering plan" means a plan which outlines national telephone numbers and area code for use by operators and customers or subscribers for the provision of communications services;
"operator" means a person who provides communications service through a communications system and who has been licensed and assigned or allocated frequency under section 9 and 27 respectively of this Act;
"radio communications" means communications by means of electromagnetic waves;
"radio frequency" means any discrete portion of electromagnetic wave that lies between 9KHZ and 3,000 GHZ;
"shared bonds" means frequency bands in the National Frequency Allocation Plan which are for common use for defence and civil purposes;
"wire communication" or "communication by wire" means the transmission of writing signs, signals, pictures and sounds of all kinds by aid of wire, cable or other-like connection between the point of origin and reception of such transmission, including all instrumentalities, facilities, apparatus, and services among other things for the receipt, forwarding and delivery of communications, including or incidental to such transmission.
(1) The Telecommunications (Frequency Registration and Control) Decree, 1977 (S.M.C.D. 71) is hereby repealed.
(2) Notwithstanding the repeal under subsection (1) of this section-
(a) any rules or regulations made under it and in force immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall continue in force to the extent that the rules or regulations are consistent with the corresponding provisions of this Act until they are amended or revoked;
(b) any action or other legal proceeding instituted under the repealed enactment may be continued under it as if the enactment had not been repealed;
(c) the Frequency Board in existence immediately before the coming into force of this Act shall until the Board of the Authority is constituted, grant frequencies and perform related functions provided under this Act; and the Minister shall until the Board of the Authority is constituted, exercise all other powers conferred on the said Board under this Act.
The rights, assets, property, obligations and liabilities of the Frequency Board established under the Telecommunications (Frequency Registration and Control) Decree, 1977 (S.M.C.D. 71) are hereby transferred to the Authority.
Any person who owns or operates a communications system in Ghana immediately before the coming into force of this Act and to which this Act is applicable and intends to so continue shall subject to the provisions of this Act, apply within six months from the date of the coming into force of this Act for the grant of a licence and the assignment of the requisite frequency.