Ghana has started the process of developing a new Digital Strategy Policy, that’s according to the Ministry of Communications.
Currently, the Ministry has a 2012 Broadband Policy and an outdated Telecoms policy.
In a speech on behalf of the sector minister, Mr Kwasi Agyei Tabi, Director of Finance and Administration reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to work with the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a broad coalition of prominent players from the private and public sector as well as civil society to make internet access more affordable for Ghanaians. He told a meeting of the A4AI Coalition that “the Government is keen to start a digital and smart economy which will improve the efficiency of doing government business using ICT as an enabler”.
The goal of the new policy is to harmonise existing ICT policies to take advantage of emerging digital opportunities from finance to education, and technology towards the creation of a knowledge-based economy.
The ultimate aim is that all households, public and private business and services will benefit from affordable broadband.
Participants at the coalition meeting agreed there needs to be an increase in sharing of ICT Infrastructure such as towers and cables particularly between telecoms sector and utility companies like the Electricity Company of Ghana, the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) and Ghana Railways to reduce the cost of expanding broadband coverage to rural areas.
They also proposed that the new policy should include a rule to enforce a ‘One-Stop shop principle’. This will be a unified agency for the issuance of all permits required to roll out ICT infrastructure such as towers and fibre optic cables.
This will remove bureaucracy in the vetting of permits and inevitably reduce the cost of providing services to consumers.
The call was also made for the policy to seek to open up the digital space for more players, in addition to telecommunications companies, to encourage new technologies and ICT content developers/providers such as C- Square and Facebook.
The keynote speaker was Mr. Kofi Asante, the Administrator of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) which collects 1 percent of revenues from Telcos to support ICT development in rural areas.
His presentation illustrated the progress made and the importance for partnerships between government and the private sector in meeting the aim of affordable broadband access.
The Fund has developed projects and ICT training with private sector companies such as Huawei and MTN.
Mr Asante indicated that the fund insisted on at least 60 percent of female participants for the training projects in order to encourage more women to use the Internet.