Gov’t to reduce spectrum and licencing fees to push down data cost

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, to speak at maiden Africa Technovate Awards
Minister for Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Communications and Digitalisation Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said that government is striving to push the cost of data down to help accelerate the digital economy via reduction in spectrum and licencing fees.

She noted that the National Communications Authority (NCA) is working to reduce spectrum and licence fees to support players in the sector and afford them an opportunity to reduce the cost of data. An official announcement, she added, will be made to this effect in due time.

According to the minister, even though a lot of work has gone into reducing the cost of data in the past few years, the current charges are deemed high; therefore, some more initiatives will be rolled out to realise a further reduction – adding that Ghana wants to be recognised as among the cheapest data suppliers in the world.

Speaking to the B&FT, the minister said the drive toward universal access to technology and digital inclusion will be meaningless if the nation does not look at access and usage; especially for the majority of Ghanaians unable to afford constant data due to cost.

“Even though the cost of data has gone down significantly, by 40 percent from US$1.56 per 1G in 2019 to US$0.94 in 2020 – thereby placing Ghana as the sixth cheapest in Africa, there is still some work we can do in reducing spectrum and licencing cost to achieve our goal of being among the cheapest in the world,” Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said.

She believes the digital ecosystem has the potential of becoming one of the growth poles for the economy as its contribution to GDP is significant, and as such the nation is investing to ensure its continuous development.

She said the announcement of Twitter establishing its Africa headquarters in Ghana and the euphoria it created globally tells how significant the digital economy is. “I believe this is a testament to the progress we are making in positioning Ghana as a digital hub on the continent.

“As we work to draw in global businesses, it is important that we also build the digital skills and knowledge-base of our human resources. That is why my ministry is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to institutionalise the teaching and learning of ICT, from primary schools to the tertiary level,” she said.

It is her belief that if the nation provides young people with the right digital skills, Africa will produce the manpower to manage the global economy in the next 20 to 30 years by taking advantage of its demographic dividend. She noted that the nation is determined to accelerate the use of digital technology, applications, and services at all levels; build and protect digital infrastructure; and enhance capacity and digital skills acquisition of our youth.

To this effect, government recently signed a partnership with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) to train 14,000 youths in the next three years under the Digital Transformation Centre (DTC) Initiative. Also, a rural telephony project is being implemented to narrow the digital divide – 2016 sites will be connected within the next 18 months to bridge rural-urban connectivity.

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