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Gotson Pierre and Harold Isaac, in partnership with Group Medialternatif, present "Koneksyon"

Are we about to have our first "high tech" Prime Minister ?

Allegations of questionable practices have punctuated Laurent Lamothe’s Global Voice Group venture in Africa

Publié le mardi 17 avril 2012

If things go accordingly for Laurent Lamothe, the designated Prime Minister might well become the most technologically involved Premier since the creation of the position back in 1988 in Haiti.
Technology is indeed one of the key areas of investment for Laurent Lamothe, one of the founders of Global Voice Group in 1998. His company presents itself as the global leader in governance of telecommunications technology serving a number of governments entities, especially in Africa.
The company assists these governments in the control of international incoming calls into their territory. The company generally deals with regulatory authorities to provide technology that will allow them to perform the said controls.

However the company’s expansion in some African countries was no smooth ride. Many have questioned Global Voice Group’s integrity as well as the usefulness of its service. In some countries, like Senegal, some people even went on to say that Global Voice Group was only there to tax inbound international phone calls while funnelling money to ruthless dictators and profiting out of the operation.

Lamothe formally rejected these accusations in July 2011. He said that it was a smear campaign against his company, Global Voice Group and himself.
Lamothe acknowledged that Global Voice Group did indeed deal with the Senegal government to provide technical assistance in international phone calls fraud monitoring. He said that it allowed the state of Senegal to earn 30 million Euro. According to Lamothe, his company should have received 49% of this amount, but up until July 2011, he did not receive a dime.
Lamothe said that globally, his company helped African governments make more than 100 million dollars in detecting calls that would have otherwise escaped the control of regulatory authorities.

However by enforcing very tight control over voice communications, some questions are arising with regards to the ethics of Lamothe’s business principle, especially in an era where technology has made communications cheaper and cheaper. More and more, data carries voice, making telephone communications extremely affordable.

Thus we may ask ourselves what room is there for technologies such as Skype, Vonage, Google Voice, Magik Jack and other IP-based technologies in this air-tight environment advertised by Global Voice. Aren’t these popular technologies ripping money away from governments ?

Since May 2011, the base rate for incoming international calls to Haiti is 23 US cents a minute while neighbour Dominican Republic gets as low as 10 US cents a minute depending on the service you use.

It has been reported that the National Education Fund (FNE) takes a bite out of that 23 cents. What role does Global Voice play in the management of incoming international calls in Haiti ? Shall it be playing a role, what is its involvement in collecting money for the National Education Fund ?

However, Lamothe has stated that his company would not take contracts in Haiti to avoid conflict of interest.

Is Laurent Lamothe considering expansion into other markets, where regulators might require his assistance to fight the "by-passing" phenomenon ? Markets such as the U.S., Canada, or any of the G8 members ?

Who has lobbied to enforce anti-bypassing legislation in Haiti ?

Bottom line is, if we do not have to pay for every single email we send why would we have to pay for voice that goes on the same data used for the email ? Harold Isaac & Gotson Pierre