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Akufo-Addo Inaugurates Ghana Rural Telephony And Digital Inclusion Project

President Akufo-Addo has launched the Ghana Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project aimed at providing data connectivity to under-served areas of the country.

The project, which is being undertaken by the Ministry of Communications and the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GHIFEC) in partnership with MTN, Vodafone, and Huawei, would help provide data and voice connectivity to 2,016 rural telephony sites, strategically located in under-served and un-served communities across the country.

These sites would provide network coverage to over 300,000 communities and provide an opportunity for over 3,000,000 people to connect to their relatives and friends enabling these communities to be accessible for social, economic, health, and educational engagements not only in other parts of the country but also to the rest of the world.

The objective is to help promote digital inclusion and thereby, reduce the gap in the digital divide.

Nana Akufo-Addo launching the project at Atwereboana, a farming community in the Adansi South District of Ashanti, said the government had already secured €155 million credit facility from the Exim Bank of China to finance this telephony extension project.

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He said modern communication had become vital to the growth of most economies and access to information was empowering individuals to escape from poverty, while laying good foundations for sustainable development.

However, some 30 percent of Ghana’s residents live in rural areas with little or no access to information and communication technology that is widening the digital divide.

Nana Akufo-Addo said the project was an affirmation of the government’s commitment to improve the livelihoods of all citizens, bring governance closer to the people, and bridge the digital gap between the urban and rural communities.

He said network connectivity in the 21st century had become a basic necessity of life just like water or electricity, adding that, every Ghanaian must not be left out in the nation’s quest for digitization and expansion.

President Akufo-Addo mentioned that the Huawei rural stock technology being used for the project entailed some 50 per cent savings of the cost of traditional cell sites, making the project both economical and financially feasible and would, therefore, generate good returns on investments.

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In furtherance of the benefits of the project, the president said it would also provide new areas for ICT growth in Ghana while raising substantially, the level of ICT literacy especially, in this COVID-19 era where the need and demand for ICT skills had increased exponentially.

Again, it would warrant rural communities’ access to E-government services making it possible for residents of the remotest and most deprived parts of Ghana apply for and receive services such as mobile money, online jobs, loan applications, virtual learning, and online educational opportunities

President Akufo-Addo pointed out that the beneficiary rural communities would enjoy 3G coverage and this would improve the user experience for all consumers.

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communication said since 2017, the Ministry had built more than 500 telephony sites and added that the project was going to extend connectivity to all parts of the country in the next 18 months.

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She pledged the Ministry’s resolve to provide the necessary regulatory support and promote initiatives and projects in line with its mandates of facilitating the development of a reliable and cost-effective world-class communications infrastructure and services for all.

—GNA