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Ghana marks World Telecommunication day

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Mr Ernest Attuquaye Armah, Deputy Minister of Communications, on Tuesday stressed the need to employ enabling capacities of Information Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the quality of life in rural communities.

He said declaration of the World Summit on Information Society should be a common desire and commitment to build a people-centred, inclusive and development oriented information society, where everyone could create, access, utilise and share information and knowledge.

In addition, individuals, communities and people could achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving quality of life.

Mr Armah made the call at flag hoisting ceremony in commemoration of this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, on the theme: “Better Life in Rural Communities with ICT”, in Accra.

He said the celebration enjoined all stakeholders, policy makers, regulators, telecommunication operators, private investors and industry, to come together to promote the adoption of policies and strategies that would promote better life in rural communities with ICTs.

Mr Armah said: “Indeed, we can achieve this when we vigorously pursue the universal access agenda to promote ICT infrastructure and services to reach all parts of the country and to all segments of the population.

“It is this resolve at bringing the Digital Divide that the Ministry of Communications through its agencies: the National Communications Authority (NCA), National Information Technology Agency, Ghana Meteorological Agency, is supporting service providers, public service organisations and communities to harness the full potential of ICT”.

Mr Armah announced that the Ministry was collaborating with the Ministries of Health, Food and Agriculture, Education, Local Government and Rural Development, to extend broadband infrastructure to health institutions, schools, colleges and Community Information Centres, through the disbursement of Universal Service Funds contributed by the communications service providers.

He said having made significant strides in expanding telephone subscription to over 17 million people (about 75 per cent tele-density) and growing, Ghana was now focusing on broadband penetration to ensure efficient internet service, capable of reliable delivery and diverse services through high-capacity access over a mix of technologies.

“The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, has been directed to intensify the supply of computers to schools, and hospitals to ensure that 80 per cent of schools are supplied by June 2012, and all the hospitals provided with internet.”

“In the course of the year, the Ministry will upgrade 300 post offices into tele-centres, complete connectivity for 20 Ghana post offices, complete connectivity to all the teacher training colleges, technical and vocational colleges, provide connectivity to 10 regional libraries, continue to equip the Community Information Centres with computers and internet, and intensify ICT training to build relevant skills for the Information Age,” he said.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in an address read on his behalf by Ms Ruby Sandhu-Rojon, UN Resident Coordinator, said this year’s theme highlighted the need to harness the full potential of ICT for the benefit of the world’s rural population.

He said: “Seventy per cent of the developing world’s 1.4 billion extremely poor people live in rural areas. Their lives can be transformed as we connect village schools to information and knowledge on the internet, bring telemedicine to far-flung rural health centres, provide accurate weather information to farmers and fishermen, and supply up-to-date market information to producers.

“The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and its partners continue striving to connect the world. I welcome these efforts, especially the drive to bring broadband to every community. Broadband telecommunications will make it possible to drive content to the remotest rural districts,” Ban Ki-Moon said.

The UN Secretary-General therefore urged governments to resolve to connect rural communities and the entire world to the digital revolution as a means of achieving the development goals and fostering peace and prosperity for all.

Mr George Ollennu, Director of Administration, National Communication Authority in a speech read on behalf of Dr Hamadoun I. Toure, ITU Secretary-General said the union was committed to connecting the world and ensuring that the benefits of ICTs reached the remotest corners as well as the most vulnerable communities.

“I am proud to say that our work at ITU in developing the standards for ICTs, managing vital spectrum and orbital resources, mobilising the necessary technical, human and financial resources, and strengthening emergency response in the aftermath of devastating natural disasters has met with unprecedented success as we enter the second decade of this millennium,” he said.

Dr Toure said although mobile penetration had spread rapidly with over 5.3 billion subscribers worldwide, the thrust mow was to drive content through enhanced broadband access aimed at establishing the information and communication highways to feed both rural communities and urban centres.

Source: GNA

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