Q1: How did you get here?
I had a normal education with scholarships from the traditional council of the area where I grew up, as well as the COCOBOD. This was right from secondary school through to the law school. I also have a postgraduate degree in law and an MBA. After school, I did five years of private practice as a litigator, and then moved to the COCOBOD. Next, I joined the National Communications Authority (NCA), and rose through the ranks to my current level [as Director, Legal] with hard work and determination. God has been my solid rock in everything and has brought me very far from where I started.
Q2: Who is (or would be) your mentor, and why?
My parents have been my foremost mentors. They didn’t have any formal education themselves, but resolved to educate their children up to the highest level. They denied themselves of so much comfort to get my siblings and I to where we are now. I am eternally grateful to them. Fortunately they enjoyed some goodies (the benefits of our education) before they went up to be with the Lord.
Q3: What one thing would you change about telecom laws in Ghana, if you could?
A lot of things need to be changed in our telecom laws. First, our telecom policy is outdated and needs a massive review. Fortunately, the NCA is working on that, in an advisory role, with the Ministry of Communications. Also, our telecom laws do not engender the convergence of technology, best practice, etc. There should be an overhaul of our current telecom enactments, especially OTT (over-the-top) services, which seem to be eroding the gains of the traditional telecom operations.
Q4: Share a funny personal experience about a new technology or app you learnt to use.
I had to even learn how to switch on a computer, and I am still learning things that we the BBCs (born before the computer) struggle with. Using apps is another example. Thankfully, I find myself in this [telecoms] sector, where we do a lot paperless communication and conferences, and you are forced to learn. A personal experience which embarrassed me was in Geneva, at an ITU (International Telecommunications Union) conference where I could not access the conference materials because I could not log in. But, after that, I have turned into something of a guru at such conferences.
Q5: Predict a significant change in the telecom sector in the next 5 years.
I can foresee the convergence of everything ‘communications’. It is already happening here. But in the next 5 years, things will change drastically with smart phones and new technologies. OTT services and applications and ‘the internet of things’ will be with us even in the emerging economies, and human beings will be relegated to the background (in many operations. Machine-to-machine services will be the in-thing.
Q6: What fun or interesting thing do most people in your professional life not know about you?
Most people initially think that I am very ‘hard’. Interestingly, when they get closer to me, they realise that I am the nicest person ever. I am forthright in my approach to things, and will call a spade a spade. I generally try to live in harmony with everyone.
Q7: What one thing would you like law firms to improve on in their engagement with corporate clients?
I may not have the kind of answer you may be expecting, here, as I am not in private practice, and I hardly engage private solicitors. However, I believe that corporate clients want to be attended to in a timely manner. And they want to be charged reasonable fees. Corporate law firms should educate corporate clients on the basic employment law and practice, so that they do not fall foul of them. It’s not just employment law; a high-level insight into all basic laws (especially those that impact directly on a particular client’s industry) is always appreciated. In the long run, this lightens the burden on both the client and the law firm, and reduces tension over high fees.
Q8: What do you think about the number of law faculties in Ghana right now?
I think they are just too many. The quality of legal education is below world class. We can have a few, and churn out good lawyers. What would be the purpose of having thousands of lawyers, if we are training them to be ‘half-baked’? I understand that now next to everybody wants to be a lawyer, but that’s the more reason the General Legal Council and the National Accreditation Board should regulate legal education (especially the intake) strictly.
Q9: Would you (or do you) separate law from morality, and why?
No, I wouldn’t separate the two. I believe they go hand-in-hand. Morality teaches one to be law-abiding. You just can’t separate them, although we have thinkers and writings which seek to do that.
Q10: Have you inspired any member of your family to become a lawyer too? If so, how did you inspire them?
Yes I have: my daughter and my niece. I am hoping to see more family members study law in the future. I think they were inspired by the way I carry myself in the family; urging people to do the right; telling them to aspire to be regarded in positive ways. I am also able to assist them in diverse ways. I believe these proved to be enough inspiration.
Q11: Does the system for addressing customer complaints and grievances against telcos and telecom operators really work?
It depends on the type of grievance. I would say that, now, the Regulator has introduced effective enforcement processes into the grievance system, through its Consumer & Corporate Affairs Division. We have seen a lot improvement. Now, the NCA takes over some of the issues and addresses them. Telcos and service providers are sanctioned when they delay in addressing customer complaints. So, generally, they try to avoid such delay or unresolved complaints.
Q12: What one thing would you change about how the police manage road traffic on the ground?
I think that where traffic lights are working, the police should not intervene. They should only act where the lights are malfunctioning. Sometimes, their intervention rather causes the gridlocks we see. They should also deal with stops-and-searches in a better way to avoid creating unending traffic queues. I mean they should be acting on intelligence, and not on mere hunches or routine call-to-duty.
Q13: What would you change about the typical law firm in Ghana right now?
Law firms in Ghana are currently doing well, in my opinion. They have improved immensely from when I qualified some thirty-two years ago. The young ones have introduced vigour and vibrancy into private practice. They are more corporate-oriented and client-focused. More lawyers are specialising in various cutting-edge legal fields, and I think this is good. No more jacks of all trades (and masters of none). So, I would not change much, but I would advise that law firms should always put a ‘human face’ to their charges. Some charges are unbelievably extortionate, if I may be blunt.
Thank you very much for your time, Mrs. Asafu-Adjei.
Thank you too, David.