Ghana ripe for mobile money boom – Communications Minister

Mobile appDr. Omane Boamah, the Minister of Communications, has said increasing Mobile Telephony Penetration and fast expansion of infrastructure in information and communication technology (ICT) signify Ghana is a fertile ground for promoting mobile money activities.

He said with the six licensed companies already operating in Ghana, Mobile Telephony Penetration as at December 2012 was more 25 million.

According to him the figure represented about 100 per cent mobile penetration of the total population of Ghana saying “this is a clear indication that, Ghana is a fertile ground for the promotion of mobile money activities”.

Dr. Boamah said this at the opening session of a two-day conference on mobile money on Tuesday at the Ghana Technology University College in Accra.

The conference is aimed at exploring the role of retail agents in the provision of mobile money services in Ghana and identifying the hindrances to the uptake of mobile money services among the rural and urban poor.

The conference was organised by the Ghana Technology University College and the Institute of Money, Technology and Financial Inclusion and was on the theme: Reaching the Unreached:  Mobile Money Uptake in Ghana.

Dr. Boamah said since Mobile Payment Systems operate on ICT infrastructure, the Ministry of Communication had found it expedient to make policies for the development of   reliable and cost effective information communication infrastructure and services to promote economic competitiveness.

“Thus e-Government network already in existence is an attempt to extend the national backbone infrastructure to all districts, and will ultimately connect all public institutions and  Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies to a single shared communications and computing infrastructure”, he said.

In terms of intra-country broadband connectivity, the minister said the government had collaborated with telecom operators to invest in the construction of a national fiber optic backbone to improve upon the nation’s capacity in ICT services, value added telecom services and broadband internet access.

Currently, most of the major towns in Ghana have been covered in terms of fiber connectivity with additional four undersea high capacity fibre cables thus adding about 7.8 Terrabytes of bandwidth capacity to complement the in-country backbone, said Dr Boamah.

He said the effort is being complemented by the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications which is also promoting the development of common telecommunications masts in un-served and underserved areas.

This is to facilitate co- location among telecom operators and thereby extend access to ICT to the underserved and unserved communities.

He said the massive broadband outlay in Ghana meant that if the mobile money concept is well nurtured and developed, a greater percentage of people in the rural areas would have access to digital financial payment systems and services, engage in seamless financial activities and be counted among users of emerging technologies in the world.

According to Dr. Boamah currently, Ghana has an active branchless banking market with three mobile network operators and 12 partnering banks that are at the fore front of this drive.

The minister said statistics from the three Mobile Network Operators in mobile money show that there are 5.4 million subscribers with total daily transactions of approximately 16.5 million Ghana cedis.

He called on mobile network operators and the banks to enter the mobile money business and support government’s effort to achieve the vision of using ICT in financial services to transform the economy.

The minister said it is only through such collaborative efforts that rural dwellers would consider themselves as part of the users of the emerging technologies in the world.

The greatest expectation of Ghanaians is the provision of high quality service delivery in the telecom sector and therefore reiterated that domestic telephone roaming would be pursued vigorously among telecom service providers to continue to interoperate efficiently to meet the quality of service delivery, he said.

Dr. Boamah said the Ministry, through the National Communications Authority, would ensure service providers adhere to measurable and verifiable standards to meet customers’ requirements and offer them value for money service.

Source: GNA

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