Internet disruption: Claim that Ursula Owusu plagiarised statement false

On March 18, 2024, the Member of Parliament for Tamale Central, Ibrahim Murtala Muhammed, claimed that the Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekufu, might have plagiarised a statement she delivered in the House.

The MP was reacting to the minister’s statement that updated MPs on the recent disruption in internet connectivity in the country.

“Mr Speaker, this House is a House of records and facts. When the minister was delivering the statement, I pulled a similar statement from the Nigeria Commission of Communication (NCC) and it seems to be word for word. Word for word, Mr Speaker. And that is why I am making reference to the statement that I have just pulled through… Plagiarism is terrible and it appears that way,” he said.

After the National Democratic Congress MP made the comments, several users on X (formerly Twitter) ran with the allegation, claiming emphatically that the minister had copied the NCC’s press statement.

One of the users posted that: “Upon Ursula Owusu’s arrogance… she couldn’t write her own speech but stole from the Nigerian Commission for communication to read to MPs.”

Fact-Check Ghana has verified this claim and presents the verdict below.

Claim: “When the minister was delivering the statement, I pulled a statement from the Nigeria Commission of Communication (NCC) and it seems to be word for word. Word for word, Mr Speaker.”

Verdict: False


Since the disruptions in internet connectivity in some West African countries, the Nigerian Commission of Communication has released two press statements, on March 15 and 18.

The first statement informed the Nigerian public about the cause of the disruptions. The second told Nigerians that the Mobile Network Operators in the country had worked to restore data and voice services to “approximately 90% of their peak utilisation capacities”.

On March 18, Ghana’s Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ersula Owusu-Ekufu, briefed Parliament on the state of the disruptions in the country.

After carefully listening to her statement, Fact-check Ghana found that the only portion in the 25-minute statement similar to the NCC’s statement was not word for word as the MP purported.

The minister’s statement: “Preliminary findings and further investigations of this fault have revealed that the fault occurred due to external incidences that resulted in cuts on the submarine cable systems in the Atlantic Ocean, offshore Côte d’Ivoire and Senegal along the coast of West Africa and Portugal.”

The NCC’s statement read that: “A combination of cable cuts, resulting in equipment faults on the major undersea cables along the West African Coast have negatively impacted on data and fixed telecom services in several countries of West Africa, including Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal, Cote de’Ivoire, among others. The cuts occurred somewhere in Cote de’Ivoire and Senegal, with an attendant disruption in Portugal.”

Fact-check Ghana also asked ChatGPT, an AI-powered language model developed by OpenAI, to identify the similarities between the two statements.

ChatGPT noted that:

“Both statements address the occurrence of cable cuts in the Atlantic Ocean affecting telecommunications services along the West African coast, particularly in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, Senegal, and Nigeria. They both highlight the external nature of the incidents leading to the cable cuts and the subsequent impact on telecom services. Both statements also mention Portugal being affected by the disruption.

“The main differences between the two statements lie in their level of detail and emphasis. The minister’s statement appears to be more focused on the preliminary findings and the specific locations where the faults occurred, while the NCC’s statement provides a broader overview of the impact across multiple countries in West Africa. Additionally, the NCC’s statement explicitly mentions the negative impact on data and fixed telecom services, whereas the minister’s statement does not specify the type of services affected.

“Overall, the two statements share similarities in terms of the core information conveyed but differ in their level of detail and emphasis on certain aspects.”

Screengrab from ChatGPT

In conclusion, it is false that the minister copied the NCC’s statement word for word as claimed by the MP for Tamale Central, Murtala Muhammed.

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