The Government of Ghana in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and stakeholders in the mobile industry held a high-level roundtable meeting, during which the GSMA launched a report to examine the transformative opportunities presented by mobile-enabled digital services in Ghana.
The meeting, held in partnership with DFID, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), discussed how Ghana can advance digital and economic inclusion through mobile.
The participants involved, signed a communiqué committing to maximise opportunities for mobile to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a range of areas including agriculture, gender equality, financial service access, innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA Akinwale Goodluck, said “Mobile offers the most widespread and inclusive means of accessing the internet and digital technologies, which are vital to the Ghanaian economy and its growth in an increasingly connected world,”
“Mobile is the key to unlocking digital transformation and I am very excited about future potential and to see our member operators building on the good work already started, through the dialogue they have undertaken today.”
Mr Philip Smith, the Head of DFID Ghana and Liberia, noted that “DFID recognises that out of all communication tools, mobile technology is the first to reach across geographies, income levels and cultures. For this reason, we see mobile technology as vital for sustainable development across a wide range of government sectors and departments. DFID are proud to be supporting this collaboration with our partners from the GSMA and UNDP, and look forward to supporting the outcomes of the National Dialogue,”
The UNDP Ghana Country Director, Dominic Sam pointed out that, “Few other technologies have grown so fast and have had so much to offer in terms of new ways of delivering services, stimulating businesses, enabling citizens to have their voices heard and countries to leapfrog development models to achieve their goals. UNDP is very pleased to partner with the GSMA and UK Government in this dialogue to design solutions and explore opportunities to do this faster and more sustainably in Ghana,”
The report highlighted how the mobile industry and the government could work together to support social and economic progress in the country.
Ghana is already proactively supporting the SDGs and has incorporated them into the country’s national development agenda with progress overseen by the President.
The report said, Government commitment to the SDGs reflects the fact that, while Ghana is a fast-growing economy and has made progress on many fronts, development challenges and gaps in access to basic services persist.
It futher said, “Given the large number of people who have access to mobile phones, the report further noted that the mobile platforms are uniquely placed to support the SDGs,”
The report added: “The industry has connected 67 per cent of the population in Ghana; nearly half the population has mobile internet access, with penetration in Ghana now the second highest in West Africa.
Further, mobile has connected eight million individuals to financial services, supported farmers and provided access to health information, clean energy and more, underscoring the vital role mobile technology can play in supporting sustainable development in the country.”
However, the report also notes that despite this progress, significant challenges remain, many of which require collaboration between the public and private sectors.
For example, there is a gender gap in Ghana of approximately 16 per cent in mobile phone ownership and 17 per cent in the use of mobile money services, with an even higher gap (56 per cent) in the use of the internet, with 2.5 million fewer women online than men.
Industry and Government Collaboration
The participants of the roundtable acknowledged the transformative impact of mobile communication on the people and economy of Ghana and celebrated Ghana’s commitment to the SDGs under the direction of President Akufo-Addo.
The roundtable emphasised the need for the public and private sectors to work hand in hand, as well as across many different government agencies that may not typically consider mobile a tool they can use to achieve their development targets.
Participants further on agreed to establish a technical working group focusing on implementation of collective actions that the group will undertake to make the 2030 agenda and digital transformation for Ghana a reality.