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General News of Thursday, 23 September 2021

Source: GNA

Explore alternative financing mechanisms for GIFEC - Minister charges board

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Communication Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Communication Minister

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitalisation has charged the newly constituted board of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to explore a new financing mechanisms for the agency to enable it to perform its role.

Speaking at the swearing-in of the new board in Accra on Wednesday, she said the reliance of the institution on the one percent voice revenue from the Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP), Over The Top (OTT) services, was not enough.

She noted that the widespread use of Voice over Internet Protocols (VoIP), Over The Top (OTT) services, as well as other modes of communication, had impacted negatively on the revenue stream of the main telecommunications providers who principally funded the organization.

The Minister urged them to consider other sources of financing to enable it to perform better and deliver on its mandate.

“It is imperative to explore alternative financing mechanisms or to take a second look at the law to ensure that GIFEC is capitalized enough to play its role as enshrined in the law,’ she said.

The 10-member board chaired by the Minister has Mr Prince Ofosu Sefah, the Acting Administrator, GIFEC; Madam Olivia Okailey Quartey from National Communications Authority; Mrs Cynthia Mamle Morrison, Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications and Mr Alexander Yaw Arphul from Ministry of Communications, as members.

Others are; Mr Emmanuel Adjei, Mr William Tetteh, Mrs Geta Striggner-Quartey, Mr Emmanuel Antwi-Kwarteng, all from Industry Forum.

The board also has one pending member.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the recent pandemic had shown how pivotal technology was in human life.

She said it was, therefore, necessary to ensure and facilitate the widespread adoption and use of digital products and services by all Ghanaians irrespective of geographical location and economic status.

The role of the GIFEC in this respect, she explained was crucial and could not be overemphasized.

She said as one of the Agencies of the Ministry designated by the Electronic Communications Act 2008, (Act 775), as the Universal Service Fund for Electronic Communications of Ghana, the entity continued to initiate innovative programmes and projects to bridge the digital divide, not only on the spatial basis but across the wide socio-demographic divide.

The Minister said key initiatives undertaken by the agency included; the School Connectivity Programme, which, she said had so far established a Cyber laboratory in over 1000 second cycle institutions across the country and Community ICT centres in deprived areas.

Others are; Extensive digital literacy skills programme, with special emphasis on Girls in ICT, aerial fibre for backhaul and last mile and the Ministry’s flagship project, the Ghana Rural Telephony Project which was constructing 2016 cell sites across the most deprived parts of our country to connect up to 4 million people to voice and data networks.

“It is unprecedented in the history of this country and shows this governments determination to narrow the digital divide. Even that will not completely solve the problem as there are many more unconnected communities. We will have to work on expanding this project,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful added.

She assured that the government was determined to leave no Ghanaian behind as it strived to build a digital economy and urged the members to be more resourceful, innovative and strategic in their thinking, planning and execution of projects particularly, to meet the rapid change in the sector.

Mr Sefah, in a remark, assured the Minister of the members’ readiness and commitment to ensure that GIFEC was successful.

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