Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO), Shola Taylor said he is highly impressed with the collaboration between the public and private sector organization that constituted the Ghana delegation to the ongoing ITU Telecom World Conference in Busan, South Korea.
Ghana’s delegation, led by Deputy Communications Minister Nenyi George Kojo Andah, comprised of five public sector institutions, two private sector institutions, and one public-private partnership.
Those from the public sector include the MOC itself, National Communications Authority (NCA), Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC), National Information Technology Agency (NITA) and the Bank of Ghana (BoG).
Those on the private sector side include Subah Info Solutions, Wireless Application Service Provider’s Association of Ghana (WASPAG), and the sole PPP was GCNet.
Speaking to Adom News on Ghana Day at the ITU World, Shola Taylor said that was the kind of collaboration African countries need to drive their ICT agendas because “by the very nature of ICT, even little disruptive technologies by some significant tech startup can be revolutionary so it is important for governments to work in close collaboration with private sector in ICTs.”
He, therefore, urged other African government to emulate Ghana’s example and not isolate state institutions from private institutions at such events and in their march towards national development through ICT.
Shola Taylor said it is time for African governments to start pursuing vigorous local content policies that seek to place ICT and telecoms in the hands of local people who would be committed to developing products and services relevant to Africans on the back of modern technology.
Indeed, an example was Google Map, which mainly seek to direct tourists to tourist destination as compared to the Subah Ghana Advent GIS primarily designed to help local government authorities mobilize revenue more effectively, with the tourists guide feature being a side benefit.
“There is no better way to undertake this digital transformation journey without significantly involving local tech business in the mainstream ICT and telecoms industries and not on the peripheries,” he said.
Shola Taylor noted that here again, Ghana’s example with empowering locals to own media houses has yielded results for the country in terms of how media houses collate election results professionally and announce them ahead of the official result from the electoral commission.
“I believe that helps to safeguard Ghana’s democracy unlike in other countries where such local empowerment does not exist and for that whole election results had not be cancelled over disputes,” he said.
The CTO boss is also urging African countries to embrace the drive towards smart cities, Internet of things, Artificial intelligence, virtualization, 5G and the entire spectrum of technologies that form the bedrock of digital transformation.
He said in the same way Africans embrace new cars when they arrive, “there is need to also embrace the new technologies while we still grapple with trying to provide most of the deprived people with basic broadband connectivity.”
Meanwhile, Deputy Communications Minister George Andah said he was also very impressed with the strong showing team Ghana put up at the ITU World, particularly on Ghana Day.
Ghana Day afforded all of the institutions on the Ghana delegation the opportunity to pitch their solutions and answer questions from possible investors and countries which are interested in learning from Ghana.
The space at the Ghana stand was packed to capacity and the audience included some top dignitaries such was CTO boss Shola Taylor, African Telecommunications Union Secretary-General Abdoulkarim Sumaila and the Director of Radio Communications Bureau of ITU, Francois Rancy.
The audience, particularly, those from Sierra Leone, showed keen interest in initiatives by Ghana’s NCA, GIFEC, NITA and WASPAG. They were particularly interested in GIFEC Boss Kofi Asante visiting them and doing a presentation for them.
On Ghana Day, a delegation from Zimbabwe, led by their Minister for Information Communication Technology, Postal and Courier Services, Supa C. Mandiwanzira paid a curtesy call on the Deputy Minister of Communication specifically to learn about mobile money.
Meanwhile, George Andah said Ghana is taking away a feel-good factor from the ITU World 2017 because from the discussions and responses so far, it is clear Ghana is on the right path so “it is happy days in Ghana.”
He said he was confident that based on the strong impression team Ghana made, and the several enquiries that came in, there will be follow-ups that will lead to a concrete working relationship for the benefit of the country.
The Deputy Minister also noted that in terms of local content in ICTs and in general, the government is fully committed to it and has started taking steps to rope in local innovation in delivering the digital Ghana agenda, dubbed “digi-time”.
“Government is not shy of embracing smart technologies to deliver on its ambitious but non-negotiable e-transform agenda and we are pursuing it vigorous with our local partners fully onboard,” he said.
Indeed, the national ID card project, digital street address system, and the digital terrestrial television project are underway with deadlines on when they are expected to fully come on stream. The DTT migration, for instance, 42 sites have been completed and the migration is expected to be fully done by second quarter of next year.
He also noted that steps are underway to completely revamp the operations of Ghana post so that it can be more relevant.
The Deputy Minister explained that the pillars of growth of new Ghana Post strategy are financial services, e-commerce and digitization, adding that the implementation of the national digital property addressing system will make it easier for home deliveries.
“We need to transform Ghana Post and turn it into a success story -Ghana Post website will become a marketplace for vendors and consumers and home delivery will be the central delivery arm of our business,” he said.
George Andah said the e-commerce services of Ghana Post is due to be launched by the end of this year.
Some industry players have recently been calling for new telecoms and broadband policies because the key targets in the current ones have long been exceeded, and those policies don’t also address some industry developments like broadband wireless access players, industry partnerships, wireless applications services and others.
Indeed, the policy targets in terms of mobile voice penetration, mobile broadband penetration among others have been far exceeded and now there are partnerships happening and even more cross-breed forms of partnerships between BWAs and MNOs are being discussed even though the current policy did not make provision for that.
To that, Deputy Minister George Andah said “policies are dynamic and may be reviewed from time to time. For example, because of DTT we need to review our broadcasting Act and policy.”
Again, recently, the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful herself charged the Broadband Communications Chamber to initiate public discussions on what necessary reviews need to be done to the policies to make them more relevant to the times.