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General News of Tuesday, 7 June 2005

Source: GNA

First rural-based ICT business centre in Ghana opened

Koforidua, June 7, GNA- Ghana's first rural-based Information and Communication Technology (ICT) business centre, commenced operations at Nkurankan, a market town near Koforidua in the Yilo Krobo District on Tuesday.

Sogakope in the Volta Region and Sege in the Greater-Accra Region were also expected to benefit from a similar facility, in the course of the year.

Ghana Telecom (GT), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and two other partners, under a joint pilot project initiated the scheme, dubbed 'e-Care' to stimulate business and economic development in rural communities.

The public could access telephone, fax, computer and Internet and other communication services that would be made possible by renewable energy at the rural business centres.

Speaking at the launch of the facility at Nkurankan, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of GT, Mr Dickson Oduro-Nyanning said it was the aim of the company to help rural communities become part of 'the knowledge society' by providing them with ICT facilities to improve upon the people's livelihood.

He urged entrepreneurs to patronise the centres to enable them to develop rural-based economy towards poverty reduction. Mr Oduro-Nyanning said the company was committed to creating awareness on ICT benefits in rural communities, as well as enhancing entrepreneurial skills of the rural people.

Ms Susana Mensah, the Deputy Eastern Regional Minister, in a speech read on her behalf, asked the people, particularly teachers and students to make good use of the facilities in order to expand their knowledge and skills in ICT.

She said government was satisfied with developments in the telecommunication industry, and stressed the need for more collaboration between development-related agencies to extend ICT to the rural areas. Ms Mensah appealed to GT to extend its services to the Fanteakwa, Birim North, Atiwa and Kwaebibirem districts, which were yet to benefit from the company's expansion programme. Dr Lawrence Agbemebiese of the UNEP reiterated the commitment of the United Nations to supporting programmes aimed at removing barriers to accessing cheap energy in a cost-effective way in developing countries.

He, therefore, urged private entrepreneurs in-charge of the Nkurankan centre, to apply the best management practices to ensure the successful implementation of the project, so that they could be replicated nationwide.

Present at the function were the Yilo Krobo District Chief Executive, Sub-Lt. (rtd) Christian Tettey, Mr N.A. Fleischer-Brock, Greater-Accra and Eastern Regional Manager of GT and Ms Anita Skagnaes, an official of Telecom Management Partners, a collaborating partner in the project.

Others included Madam Dorothy Gordon, Director-General of Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence and Madam Abena Agyarkwa Kwarteng, a Member of the Presidential Special Initiative on Distance Education. 8 June 05

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