Godwill Arthur-Mensah, GNA
Accra, Dec. 15, GNA - Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, has announced that 400 rural telephony sites have been constructed under the Rural Telephony Project this year to provide voice and data connectivity to rural dwellers.
This has provided coverage for 2,000 communities with a population of 900,000 to access internet services to enhance their businesses and ultimately bridge the digital gap between the rural and urban dwellers.
The Ministry, through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), had been implementing the Project, including Smart Community Project and the Satellite TV Project.
It is expected that by 2020, the entire nation would be covered, which is estimated to cost the country 195 million dollars.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful, announced this when addressing journalists in Accra, when the Communications Ministry took its turn of the Meet-the-Press series.
The Minister noted that residents and businesses in many rural areas have limited or no access to communication though their needs are similar to those of urban residents, ranging from basic voice telephony to broadband access due to their geographic location and sparse population distribution, while Network Operators did not consider them commercially viable.
The Minister added that the “Smart Community Project” was also designed to provide affordable and free WIFI internet services to deprived communities across the country, where the mobile network operators find it unprofitable to extend their networks to.
The Minister said the GIFEC had piloted the project in four communities namely; Goaso, Brekum, Asankragua and Asumura.
The Smart Community, the Minister said, would be an access point for providing all other broadband services to deprived communities for e-education, Content, entertainment, and e-services.
“GIFEC in partnership with ZEEPAY, a FinTech Company, has established 90 transaction kiosks in Western, Brong-Ahafo and Eastern Regions to deliver a payment and cash transfer platform which is interoperable on all mobile networks.
Other services provided include international remittances, cellular airtime top up and bill payments,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated.
Meanwhile, Mr Kofi Ofosu Nkansah, the Chief Executive Officer of the Accra Digital Centre, who was called upon to answer a question on the operations of community communication centres, said there were about 240 centres across the country, but 28 of them were functioning at the beginning of 2017.
However, with financial support from the Communications Ministry, 36 of them were renovated and that 180 are currently functioning.
He said personnel from Digital Ghana under the Nation Builders Corps were assisting in training traders and market women, as well as dress and bead makers to improve upon the profitability of their businesses.
He said 600 persons were being trained in each region and 2,000 people are expected to be trained by the end of 2020.