Government to address need for telecommunication infrastructure in rural areas

The National E-Government Network Infrastructure project is part of measures by government to address lack of access to reliable telecommunication facilities in the rural areas.

The project covers the deployment of a nation-wide dedicated telecommunications network to all districts and connection of public institutions, ministries, departments and agencies, as well as metropolitan, municipal and district assemblies to a single shared communications and computing infrastructure.

Mr Haruna Iddrissu, Minister of Communications, announced these in an address read on his behalf at the opening of a two-day Commonwealth African Rural Connectivity Initiative In-Country workshop, in Sunyani on Tuesday.

The workshop was organized by the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

Participants included Members of Parliament, traders, traditional rulers, religious heads, representatives of district and municipal assemblies and the Trades Union Congress.

Mr Iddrissu said that government has formulated a policy to promote electronic governance to facilitate the delivery of government services to citizens, businesses and others establishments.

He said that the plan was also aimed at connecting hospitals, schools, police stations, National Health Insurance Scheme, Ghana Immigration Service, Agriculture Extension Services, Internal Revenue Service and Value Added Tax Offices in all towns within the network coverage areas.

Mr Iddrissu said the Ministry would review the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy to include Green ICT, Geographical Information Systems and District level ICT policies.

He said that the National Communications Authority had been mandated to auction broadband wireless access licenses to facilitate the provision of ‘last mile’ solutions by the private sector, to address the policy objective of universal access.

Mr Iddrissu said “This is expected to make government services available to rural communities to minimize the digital divide and create ICT jobs in the communities”.

He said that by offering ICT connectivity to rural communities, standards of living of the people could be transformed through the creation of opportunities for the establishment of businesses and acquisition of skills and knowledge.

Mr. Kwadwo Nyamekye Marfo, Brong Ahafo Regional Minister, in a speech read on his behalf, said the project would enable municipal and district assemblies and civil society as well as telecommunication providers to provide ICT facilities at the districts.

He called on the GIFEC to go beyond the constituency level and provide ICT to bigger communities with cluster of schools, saying the initiative had become imperative with the introduction of ICT as part of basic school curriculum.

Mr Marfo expressed the hope that the workshop would help identify gaps in ICT to improve access to electronic communication especially in the rural areas.

Dr. Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, Chief Executive Officer of CTO, said that the group provided the international community with effective means to help bridge the digital divide to achieve socio-economic development.

He said ICT was considered as a major facilitator for the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.

Dr. Spio-Garbrah said that the CTO was making use of training, capacity development programmes, research findings, consultancy, advisory services, knowledge sharing and information services to achieve its goals.

Mr Kofi Attor, Administrator of GIFEC, said the group was seeking to bridge the digital gap between the served and underserved communities in Ghana.

He said the Fund was planning to provide financial support for the establishment of universal services and access for all communities and enhance the provision of basic telephony, internet service, multimedia service, broadband and broadcasting services to the communities.

Source: GNA

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