fbpx

Lower cost of data key to more adoption of E-services

BY: Elizabeth Nyaadu Adu
Francis Appiah (right), a financial technology professional answering questions from Charles Benoni Okine, Ag. Editor, Graphic Business shortly after the meeting

The government over the past years has made a conscious effort to help in achieving economic growth through digitalisation.

This can be seen in the increasing adoption of electronic services (E-services) in most of the government ministries and agencies in Ghana.

Some E-services platforms such as those of the Ghana Revenue Authority’s (GRA) Non-Resident E-Commerce/Digital Service(s) Registration Portal and the Ghana Gov platforms, promote digital inclusion, enabling millions of Ghanaians to benefit from improved and easier access to healthcare, education and financial services.

E-services also contributed to Ghana’s economic growth.

For instance, E-commerce sales in Ghana is projected to reach US$759 million in 2022.

This will represent a growth of 19 per cent over the 2021 figure of US$638 million.

It is estimated that the figure, per available statistics, is expected to reach US$1.3 billion by 2025.

Data cost

However, the sustainability of E-services depends largely on citizens participation and reliable ICT infrastructure such as affordable internet or data.

There has been an argument that the high cost of internet and poor connectivity in Ghana can negatively affect government’s digitalisation agenda and limit digital inclusion and economic growth.

To end this, a financial technology professional, Mr Francis Appiah, has advised the government to consider data as a utility resource by reducing its cost to create more adoption of E-services in the country.

That, he said, would increase the adoption of E-services and help the government to track and tax citizens to raise more revenue to develop the country.

Mr Appiah gave the advice last Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast Meeting.

On the theme: “Integration of E-Service into our economy: Implications for economic growth,” Tuesday’s meeting was the first of four quarterly events scheduled for the year to throw the spotlight on topics that border on the economy.

It brought together experts in the Fintech industry to deliberate on how to maximise the gains of E-services to the economy.

Mr Appiah who was speaking in an interview with the acting Editor of the Graphic Business, Charles Benoni Okine, shortly after the event said: “Increasingly the internet is a utility resource and no longer a resource of convenience and if we are to think of data as a utility then our thinking around how we price it will change. We must prioritise driving down the cost of data as a country to create more adoption.

“Data or internet is the foundation of our digital economy and without it, E-services will not happen,” he stated.

“I think the government needs to take a look at what components of theirs affect the price buildup of data and see where there is some flexibility and drop the rate that is being charged now for data so that as many people as possible can afford to consume it,” Mr Appiah stated.

Digitalisation

Earlier in his address to open the meeting, the Managing Director of the Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr Ato Afful, said digitalisation was rapidly becoming a new way of engaging globally, as the world was fast becoming more dependent on the Internet.

The offshoot of this phenomenon, he said, was that services and commerce were also becoming technology and mobile based.

He said Ghana, like many other countries, had responded by making significant shifts in integrating E-service into the economy.

Mr Afful said E-service offered a big global market with huge economic value.

Conclusion

It is clear from the arguments that data cost can drive the adoption and use of E-services in the country.

Many shy away from the use of E-services because they do not want to pay more for data which price has been on the rise in recent times.

It is understandable that revenue from voice is no longer sustainable and, therefore, the telcos are making loses with that service. The new area to break even or make profit is through data which use has risen due to the use of social media among other things.

It is, however, a fact that the more people use E-services, the more the government can expand the tax net to increase domestic revenue.

As the tech expert stated, for the government to able to attract more people to use E-services, efforts that would help reduce the cost of data is key.

The various issues raised at the breakfast meeting give a clear indication that E-services has come to stay and the earlier the state realises that position to play its role to increase the uptick, the better for the economy.