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Opinions of Thursday, 3 April 2014

Columnist: Frimpong, J. Y.

Voicemail and the average Ghanaian: arch-enemies?


New York, USA (2014) – It is highly characteristic for someone living in America to leave a voice mail (also called voice message or voice bank) after they have failed to reach someone via phone. The recipient will in turn after listening to the voice mail call or act upon what the person left in his or her voice mail.

Kumasi, Ghana (2014) – It is highly unusually for someone living in Ghana especially a Ghanaian to leave a voice mail after he has failed to reach someone via phone. The reason for this is very obscure. One might therefore be tempted to ask whether the average Ghanaian has reservations against the voice mail system.


For the purposes of this article, I will define a voice mail as “any system of conveying a stored telecommunications voice messages, including using an answering machine”. Every communication network in Ghana offer voice mail as a basic feature yet it serves that this sector is under-subscribed. Voice mail is/was the best way to communicate with someone you could not reach.


I doubt if you can blame the average Ghanaian for having such an attitude toward the anachronistic voice mail system. I believe that the seeming constant bashing of the average Ghanaian for not using voice-mail is a step in the wrong direction. Now, we are surrounding by an array of social media apps and cross platform instant messaging subscription services. Take for instance; facebook, twitter and whatsapp. It is far easier and extremely cheaper to leave a message on these platforms than to do so using voice mail.

More people are use these services than they use voice-calls in the first place. I wonder what percentage of youth even make calls to their fellow friends. Now, it seems “everyone” is and frequents whatsapp. So leaving a voice message doesn’t seems to make much of an economic sense. First, it is cheaper. Secondly, it is faster and thirdly, voice-messaging system is even counter-productivity in its own effect.

What’s more, Ghanaians were never used to the concept of voice mail. I believe that it became a latest addition after the rise of social media. So in effect, social media came to cloud over voice mail unlike America and other Europeans countries in which they introduced earlier.


In effect, voice mail and the average Ghanaian are not arch-enemies. It failed to catch-on with the average Ghanaian because of the rise of social media. I doubt if voice mail will ever become popular in Ghana. Well, if it does I will not be happy neither will be sad.


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