Government will by the end of this year complete the construction of some 560 rural telephony sites under the Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project to extend basic voice and data connectivity to underserved and unserved communities across Ghana.
Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, who made this known, said 1,008 rural sites, under the project, had already been constructed nationwide between 2020 and 2022.
The government, she added, hoped to complete the remaining projects as soon as practicable.
“We are optimistic that out of the one thousand and eight (1,008) remaining sites to be completed, five hundred and sixty (560) rural sites will be completed by the end of this year,” she said.
The Minister said this in a speech read on her behalf by Madam Ama Pomaa Boateng, the Deputy Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, at the celebration of the 2023 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) on Wednesday, organised by the Ministry and the National Communication Authority (NCA).
The WTISD is to help raise awareness of the benefits citizens and economies could derive from the use of the Internet and other information and communication technologies (ICTs) to bridge the digital divide.
The global theme for this year is: “Empowering the Least Developed Countries through Information and Communication Technologies,” with the local theme being: “Public-Private Partnership for Connectivity.”
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said investment in ICT was crucial in bridging the technology usage gap, hence the Government had undertaken numerous projects, including the National Roaming Policy, to address challenges of network coverage.
“It is a step towards ensuring that all citizens, regardless of their location, have access to reliable telecommunication services,” she said.
The Government had committed $2.6 million to support innovation centres to train 3,000 people by 2024.
“The Ministry also has an agreement with the Smart Africa Alliance, through the Smart Africa Digital Academy, to train up to 22,000 people by 2023,” she added.
Professor Ezer Osei Yeboah-Boateng, the Deputy Director General of Technical Operations at NCA, said over the years, the Government, through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, had been pushing the digital agenda to bridge the digital divide and improving literacy and access to connectivity.
“Projects such as the Rural Telephony, UMTS900, Girls-in-ICT, Community Information Centres, National Roaming amongst others, have all been implemented by the Ministry and its agencies and are steadily running and being monitored to improve connectivity,” he added.
At the beginning of this year, there were over 22.8 million internet subscriptions in Ghana with a penetration rate of 71.94 per cent, he said, which signified a major increase in connectivity as compared to previous years.
Despite that, Prof Yeboah-Boateng said the country needed to implement firm initiatives and collaborations to ensure sustainability, emphasising public-private partnership as key to the attainment of that goal.
“We have made progress, however, there is still room for improvement as we seek and have pledged to empower Least Developed Countries to connect to the rest of the world.”
“Government cannot do this single-handedly and this is the rationale behind the Government’s creation of an enabling environment for investment and for the private sector to thrive.”
Mr Abdourahamane Diallo, the Country Representative of UNESCO, assured of the UN’s continuous support to the Government to help bridge the ICT in Ghana.