Lawmakers block Vodafone takeover of Ghana Telecom

Opposition lawmakers in Ghana's parliament blocked approval of the sale of a majority stake in state-owned Ghana Telecom to Britain's Vodafone, an AFP report said.

With the chamber going into the summer recess, Vodafone and the Ghanaian government will have to wait until October when deputies return, the report said.

'It gives an opportunity for a rethinking, reassessment and reworking of what is going on,' the opposition National Democratic Congress' spokesman on finance, Benjamin Kumbuor, said.

Deputy Communications Minister, Opare Ansah, told AFP that there is nothing wrong with the agreement.

The government's announcement that a 70% stake in Ghana Telecom was to be sold to the British firm has provoked stern opposition from some politicians who think that the proposed deal, which values Ghana Telecom at €800 million euros (US$1.3 billion), is not in the national interest, the AFP report said.

Vodafone has agreed to pay (US$900 million) for the 70% stake, but the opposition party says the shares are worth more than that.

'Other bidders are likely to offer higher bids than Vodafone and address the socio-economic needs of the country,' the opposition NDC said in a statement.

'We have been scammed,' one of the country's best known economists, Nii Moi Thompson, said after going through the agreement.

'It became embarrassing to me that an entire government made up of some of the best-educated people in this country will sign off on a document that gives off portions of our economy for a thousand years that they weren't even aware of.'

Ghana Telecom is the west African country's third largest mobile phone group with 1.4 million customers or 17% of the market.