Five-year broadband policy to be scrutinised

The country’s five-year Broadband Policy has failed to make any progressive impact in the socio-economic future of the citizens, the Chief Executive Officer of the Broadband Communications Chamber (BBCC), Elorm Gustav Tamakloe has stated.

“The Chamber believes that Ghana’s current 2012 Broadband Policy and Implementation Strategy has lost the fundamentals in turbo-charging our socio-economic future. It has lost the ability to meet national Broadband needs, and has not been able to deliver fast and affordable Broadband to Ghana,” he said.

Addressing a media conference in Accra, Mr. Tamakloe referring to a 2016 report by the United Nations Broadband Commission, explained that the deployment of Broadband infrastructure should be a top priority to policymakers so as to quicken the attainment of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“Last year, the UN Broadband Commission in a report issued a challenge to policymakers, the private sector and other partners to make deployment of Broadband infrastructure a top priority in their strategies to accelerate global development and progress toward the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” Mr. Tamakloe said.

He said the report revealed that Broadband technologies in the 21st century were “driving significant transformation in lots of sectors that are related to development – such as health, food security, financial inclusion and education”.

Mr. Tamakloe also expressed disappointment at Ghana’s inability to utilise the Broadband opportunity as a stimulant for socio-economic development.

“Sadly, Ghana is losing out. Ghana is being left behind. With approximately 9.9 million users, representing 34.7% of an about-29 million population, we can either choose to continue doing nothing or we can seize the Broadband opportunity as a catalyst for Ghana’s sustainable socio-economic development,” he added.

Benefits of broadband to the economy

For business, it means reduced travel costs, better access to services, information, partners and customers.

For the sick, it means remote diagnosis and care, reducing the need for hospitalisation – reducing pressure on the hospitals and healthcare services, he said.

Meanwhile, for the environment it means better planning and control of natural resources, especially energy and water supplies. “For industry, it means more efficient production and distribution. For schools, it means more access to information.”

Upcoming broadband stakeholder meeting

Stakeholders in country’s broadband communications industry are expected to converge in Accra on November 30, 2017, to dialogue on how to revamp the country’s five-year old Broadband Policy.

The move, according to organisers of the Broadband Ghana Forum, will afford stakeholders the opportunity to inject dynamism into the policy and also discuss issues relating to the industry.

Dr. Thomas Mensah, a renowned Ghanaian innovator of fibre-optic technologies, will be one of the key speakers, while Nokia, Huawei and CSquared are expected to present their ICT solutions at the maiden forum, which is expected to discuss issues including challenges and barriers to creating a fully digitally-enabled Ghana, new technology enablers, Internet of Things (IoT), among others.

Organised by the BCC under the auspices of the Ministry of Communications and themed ‘Broadband: The Catalyst for Sustainable Socio-economic Development’, the forum will have a series of presentations from key personalities and organisations under the sub-theme ‘True Broadband and the Possibilities It Brings’.

The Chamber is expected to present recommendations on guidelines and modalities for a complete review and update of the existing policy, taking into consideration new entrants and technologies in the broadband industry.

“The paradigm shifts we face today are profound, but our instinct is that the future is bright, the possibilities are exponential. Ghana has a lot to gain from universal broadband access only if we choose to let it be.

“We cannot reiterate enough how small businesses across the length and breadth of Ghana will be major beneficiaries as high-speed broadband revolutionises teaching in our classrooms, and healthcare in our medical centres and hospitals,” Mr. Tamakloe said.