Business News of 2014-04-26

'Set up special funds for IT sector'

The Executive Chairman of Innovative EPS Ltd., Mr. George Boateng, says government may have to do a little bit more to amply demonstrate its genuine desire to integrate the country as a cashless, ICT driven economy.

According to him, though government has been proactive in the quest to grant IT a pivotal place in business transactions, a lot more ought to be done especially in the area of funding for IT business in the country.

Mr. Boateng, whose PAYZONE payment platform was early this year awarded the Best Technology Initiative in Africa award in South Africa, is asking government to consider establishing a dedicated fund to support start-up companies in the area of Information Technology.

He said though a number of avenues have been made available to firms in the agro processing sector, he laments the same cannot be said of IT firms.

He also said though the Ghana Infrastructure Fund for Telecommunication (GIFEC) exists, it does not offer players in the private sector -- and especially those wishing to start new companies -- any financial lifeline.

“Start-up companies find things too hard. The banks are not structured to cope with such pressures. A dedicated fund is the best solution," he suggested.

He, however, commended government for advancing IT infrastructure such as the Ghana Interbank Payment System (GHIPSS) and the National Fibre Optic Backbone Project which is extending telecommunication services to greater part of the country.

“The thing about IT is its ability to expand the tax net, help service providers to cut down cost of doing business and most importantly create more jobs. And this is why everything possible must be done to aid their coming into fruition,” said Mr. Boateng.

He said the PAYZONE payment platform, for instance, is providing a very crucial interface needed to create a cashless society. The next phase, he said, is training and education, considering the levels of literacy.

The PayZone platform currently hosts all the telecommunication networks in Ghana, facilitates the purchase of direct airtime top-ups on its Self -Service payment kiosk, and are currently deployed at various locations in the Greater Accra Region.

The company is currently holding discussions to enrol Electricity Bill Payment (Post & Pre-paid), Ghana Water Bill Payment, hosting of Internet Service Providers Payment, Lotteries, Mobile Banking, Mobile Payments; Tax payment, Banking & Finance, Micro Finance & Insurance, Airline and Event Ticketing, among others.

The platform is capable of hosting 1,600 services concurrently.

It currently has a growing patronage of about 80,000 to 100,000 per month, and in the next 5 years Innovative EPS hopes to expand into other African countries.