Vice President West and Central Africa Region-MTN Group, Ebenezer Twum Asante, has called for stakeholder participation in the country’s bid for an inclusive digital economy.
Speaking as a panel-member at the maiden Standard Chartered Digital Banking Innovation & Fintech Festival, which formed part of activities to mark the bank’s 125 years anniversary, Mr. Twum Asante stressed that participation helps empower people rather than just being included.
“We should apply our minds to lifting participation. Being included is one thing, participating is another. So, the role of digitisation should also be to lift participation – such that people are empowered when they come on board,” he said.
Mr. Asante, a former CEO of MTN Ghana, lauded government for its feat in digitising the economy, and encouraged that digital should be a smart enabler for living and doing business. “We need to now see digital not just as an industry but also a smart enabler for living, for governance and even doing business. It appears that as a country we have done very well on the front of digitisation, getting the data, numbers and more users,” he said
The Telco mogul however questioned how the country will translate the digitisation into digitalisation – whereby people will patronise the digital platforms.
“How do we translate digitisation into digitalisation; whereby the data becomes active, agile and also enables the way we do business? How do you create a multiplier-effect out of the data you have? That is where I think you can make a difference,” he noted.
He indicated that the basic for digitalisation is smartphones and devices, but quickly bemoaned the high cost of smartphones, saying: “Let’s set ourselves the benchmark to say an average person in the district should be able to acquire a smartphone at the price of at least US$20 or US$30,” – emphasising that this will enable adoption.
He further expressed confidence that by deepening some of the already existing digital platforms such as the QR code, National Identity data base, SIM data base, the voter register, passport among others, then stakeholders can monetise their ideas, products and services.
Inclusive digital economy, the telecommunication industry’s role
Mr. Asante further touted some achievements of the telcos in digitisation. “The telecommunication industry, since 2007, has provided the platform to create digital inclusion – positioning ourselves in a way that all sectors, business, individual, lifestyle or even government is also able to use digital systems and facilitations to reach out to their audience.
“We provide distribution and channels to make sure that the customers we created are customers for all innovators in the ecosystem to take advantage of. The ecosystem that you create, you ensure all the systems are speaking together; and so over the period we also even established collaboration and partnerships – not only with the banks, but also the likes of Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement System (GHIPSS).”
He added that the telcos also help broadcast the work of innovators. “We assist the participation of digital innovators, such that whatever they innovate is brought to the platform and we are able to propagate it and give them the reach and skill,” he added.