Ghana stands tall in ICT – Mahama

President John Dramani Mahama has expressed satisfaction with what he calls a massive growth in the telecommuncation industry in the country, citing previous situations where Ghanaians queued to make a phone call.

The President said Ghana’s mobile phone subscription statistics which stands at 33 million, is a key reason for the current development in the sector.

“Today, Ghana stands tall as one of the progressive ICT and telecom markets with six mobile operators and over 33 million subscriptions. It means that, if we were supposed to share the subscriptions we are supposed to be about 27 million people. Then it means every new born baby has a mobile phone, but I know that some people have five, others have four, others have two, at least I have three.”

The President made the comment at the ongoing African Mobile and ICT Expo, MOBEX today [Tuesday], at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) on the theme: Digital Economy, an untapped resource for accelerated economic development.

The event forms part of programmes scheduled for Citi FM’s month-long Business Festival.

President Mahama used the occasion to tell Ghana’s struggle in the ICT and telecom sector, which he said has seen massive transformation in the last two decades.

He said technology remains one of the main pillars of Ghana’s transformation agenda.

Mahama praises Edward Saliah

“Two decades ago, we started reforms in the telecommunication sector on the back of the accelerated development programme for telecoms. This programme was launched in 1995 by Edward Saliah who at the time was the Minister of Transport and Communications. So if you talk about the new digital age and the liberalization of the telecom sector, then the father or the midwife of that process is Edward Saliah.”

He added that following the period of Edward Saliah, the Ministry of Communications was separated from Transport “and became a stand-alone ministry because the rate at which telecommunications technology was going it was necessary to have a ministry that was dedicated to that sector.”

“After the birth of that Ministry, Dr. Ekow Spio Garbrah was the first minister and I was his deputy, so together we continued from where Edward Saliah left,” he added.

We have come very far in technology 

President Mahama also spoke about the Post and Telecommunication Corporation era, which he said saw people use fixed telephone lines and later big mobile phones.

“At that time the technology was different, you had voice separate, data separate and video separate, and we hadn’t reached the era of convergence yet, it started to happen much later.”

He said during that time “the only place you could make external calls was the High Street and you have to go very early and go and queue and then you give the number of the person you want to call. So they will call the person, they had about four or five boots at the time, so when your name is mentioned, you will go to one of the boots to make the call…if you had a fixed telephone number and you want to make an external call, you booked it and you were told the call will come between Wednesday and Thursday so what does that mean? So Wednesday and Thursday you must sit at home and not go anywhere just because you’ve have to call outside? Today our children don’t remember this, you just whip out your mobile phone and call anywhere in the world.”

The President, who once served in the Communication Ministry  said, “at the time we were doing all these, none of us could imagine 20 years on, what kind of explosion was going to take place in telecommunication so you look back with hindsight.”

By: Godwin A. Allotey/
Follow @AlloteyGodwin