The telecommunication sector continues to the epicentre of innovation, growth and welcoming new opportunities.
From the days of telegraph, the sector has now evolved tremendously in the last couple of years.
On Sunday, the Springboard, Your Virtual University, a radio programme on Joy FM, discussed the emerging trends in telecommunications and technology.
The discussion focused on how telecommunication has evolved over the years, the role of technology in the evolution, and what has been the role of MTN in the growth of telecommunication and technology in the country over the past 25 years.
Helping with the discussions were the Senior Manager, Regulatory and Government Affairs at MTN Ghana, Mr Samuel Bartels, and the Senior Specialist, Youth Segment and Consumer Marketing of MTN Ghana, Ms Gloria Acheampong.
Communication is essential
Using Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, Mr Bartels said fundamentally, the third hierarchy was social needs and at the base of that was communication.
He said human beings naturally wanted to have a sense of belonging and to connect to other human beings, as well as build relationships with others.
“When you go to the apex need which Maslow describes as self-actualisation, we have ambitions and want to maximise our potential and the technology and communication is one of such opportunities that will help us achieve this.
“Also as humans, we tend to be naturally curious; we want to find out what is happening and in that sense communication becomes a vehicle in satisfying that curiosity,” he stated.
He also pointed out that to the extent that modern democracies had entrenched freedom of expression as a human right, people could only accomplish that through communication.
Evolvement of communication
Mr Bartels said all those basic foundational needs that had led to communication had not changed over the years, but what had changed was the technology by which this human need was being met.
“Over the years, whether in 1831 when the telegraph was invented to 1849 when the telephone was invented, right down to 1973 when the first mobile phone was invented to what we have now in terms of the messaging applications such as Whatsapp, Telegraph, Ayuba, Facetime, etc. all aimed at serving one unique purpose which is communication,” he explained.
He said technology had completely been at the heart of that change which was being accelerated probably most within the last 20 years.
“At the heart of it all has not just been the technology but the innovative drive, especially by young people. There are endless opportunities in terms of what technology can help us with,” he stated.
He said as evolution was happening, convergence was also happening.
“Technology has converged on single devices and platforms and now people don’t even watch television like they use to. People now watch videos on demand and use their bundles to stream what they want,” he noted.
Role of MTN
Commenting on the role of MTN over the years, Mr Bartels said the core belief of MTN was that everyone deserved a modern connected life.
“What has happened over the last two years is that we have now been propelled properly into the 21st century where you can school from anywhere and do whatever you want to do from anywhere,” he stated.
He said 25 years ago when MTN Ghana started, there were only 110 districts in the country and out of that, only 37 of them were connected or had telephone exchanges.
“This means that most parts of this country were in the dark in terms of telecommunication services, although the service we were providing was basic,” he said.
He said it was against that backdrop that MTN came into the market.
“Even then, the biggest technology was 2G so what we could do was very limited, but fast forward to now; we have moved from our industrial stage to a digital stage and everything has transformed. We are no longer a telecom service provider but a digital service provider,” he stated.
He said the telecom sector was no longer another entity, but now the foundation of every sector and an enabler.
Youth at the centre
For her part, Ms Acheampong said at the centre of what MTN did was the youth.
She said that was why the company had partnered institutions such as Legacy & Legacy to empower the youth across the country.
“For us, we know the youth is at the centre of all this evolution so we have carefully created a segment on the market that we call MTN Pulse solely targeting the youth. We have a lot of things we are doing to guide the youth and have lots of content on the Pulse,” she stated.
She said the contents ranged from empowerment contents, educational and entertainment.