Closing digital divide crucial to Ghana’s socio-economic development – Ursula
Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said bridging Ghana’s wide digital divide is crucial to the country’s socio-economic development of the country.
As a result, she noted, government is embarking on a deliberate agenda to digitize Ghana, which is an ambitious technological programme of infrastructural development with national broadband infrastructure and connectivity with the unserved and underserved at the heart of the agenda.
The government of Ghana in recognition of the “importance of connectivity for socio-economic development”, she told the ongoing International Telecommunications Union (ITU) world conference in Durban, South Africa, believes “it’s imperative that all citizens benefit from the opportunities presented by digitization and it is crucial that we close the digital divide which threatens to further marginalize the most vulnerable in our communities.”
She said as government of Ghana scales up its digitization effort, the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) which is mandated by law to provide financial resources for the establishment of universal service and universal access to all communities and to facilitate the provision of access to basic telephony, internet services, multimedia broadband and broadcasting services is playing an increasingly “critical role” in the digital transformation “our countryside.”
She said the growth in teledensity in urban areas fueled by mobile technological uptake has resulted in a “widening digital gap between rural and urban areas” and because the extension of connection to the rural areas is not considered commercially viable, they continue to be left behind.
She said there are almost 2000 communities in Ghana without mobile signals and through GIFEC, the government is working in collaboration with the network operators to achieve 100% coverage by 2020 and telephone subscription to as many citizens as possible.
“We are making significant stride on this journey,” she stated adding from the year 2006 to 2017, 117 rural telephony sites were constructed and that the Akufo-Addo led government has significantly scaled up these operations and 2017 alone 100 rural telephony sites were constructed and activated to over 500 communities where access to mobile signals was not previously available.
She further noted “as at now in 2018, we have 80 sites already completed and we are on course to complete 200 sites this year with our partners MTN and Huawei for the second phase of this project which involves the deployment of voice and data connectivity.