Stop calling Vokacom ‘fraud’; it’s hurting my business – CEO
Nana Osei Afrifa, CEO of Ghanaian IT firm Vokacom has said attributing fraud to the company in connection with its association with the National Digital Addressing System, is hurting his business.
“I handle about 100 calls a day normally, since the political thing went into it, it’s gone to almost 500 calls in a day. My phone is constantly running out of battery, but we have taken it, nobody asked us to go and take a government project, we decided to go and bid for that government project. The unfortunate thing is because some people are attributing fraud when, in fact, there is none to it, some of our partners are beginning to get jittery which is beginning to hurt our business,” he told Moro Awudu on Class91.3FM’s Executive Breakfast Show on Wednesday, 8 November.
Vokacom has been caught in a political storm over the past three weeks following its development of the GhanaPostGPS app for the digital addressing system in Ghana.
It won a $2.5million (GHS9.9million) contract for the entire project. But critics, including former President John Mahama, who recently described the project as “419” – fraud, have said Ghana could have got the app for free on Google.
According to Nana Osei Afrifa, the bad and highly politicised commentary on the project has compelled the company to come to the fore to explain things to Ghanaians.
“It’s actually one of the reasons we are taking some of the frontline in communicating, otherwise we would have sat back but this is beginning to hurt our business,” he said, adding: “There are people we do business with outside of this country who read news about Ghana and suddenly they are seeing Vokacom, a company they’ve been working with all these years, being called fraudulent, it’s hurting and this is a Ghanaian business that is doing work, employing Ghanaians and exporting technology out of Ghana and for political expediency, somebody chooses to call me a fraud to destroy my business.”
He said it is “very sad that as a country, we can sink to such depths just to destroy each other.”
“This is a very very sad situation and it hurts that all the efforts that we put in, the numerous sacrifices, the fact that we’ve taken profits we were supposed to have made – we are a private business, we make profit from jobs – … and gone and given it to Google and say: ‘We know you offer the best mapping experience, we don’t want to talk too much, you take our money and let’s get this thing going, once Ghanaians accept it, we can always talk about something else.’
He said the bad publicity surrounding the project is affecting his staff, too.
“…For the 40 people who look up to me, in my last meeting, it was visible that our people are getting shaken to their core, we are being called fraudsters, these are people some of whom have worked with me for 10 years and have built their futures into this business. We’ve committed our everything into this business and then suddenly [because of] $2.5million [we are branded fraudsters].
“I told you we make $10million a year. We go and take a GHS9.9million contract including VAT, including marketing, including tagging and all these things total profit coming to us isn’t even making 10% of our profit in a year and because of that [you call me fraud] and simply because of political expediency.
“We are getting people who have made up their minds that they would tear this company down no matter what and I doubt very much it’s because they hate me; it has nothing to do with me, nothing to do with the technology… People want to do their politics, please stay on the political level, I don’t have a problem, please leave Vokacom out. We are just a company that has come to do a job and to the best of our knowledge, we’ve done a really good job. Other countries are calling us to come and support them. What we have brought is something completely unique. The way we have changed the digital addressing space is unbelievable. We have revolutionalise the digital addressing space,” he told Moro.