A policy is being formulated by the Ministry of Communications to enable mobile users to enjoy domestic roaming in the country, the sector minister, Dr Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, has said.
The implementation of the policy will also enable mobile users to switch from one network to another network in the event of the failure of a particular network to function.
Dr Boamah made this known when he opened the ‘Digital Family Forum’ organised in Accra yesterday. The forum was organised by the National Communications Authority (NCA) as part of the 2016 World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which falls on May 17 every year.
The theme for the celebration is “ICT entrepreneurship for social impact”, while the national theme is “ Addressing challenges of the communications industry to promote growth and development — Focus on domestic roaming and Over-The-Top (OTT) services.”
Dr Boamah said an implementation of such a transformation would stimulate, promote and encourage innovation and furthermore provide the required quality of service while developing a reliable communication infrastructure.
Already there is mobile phone portability service which allows subscribers to switch from one network to another.
Statistics at the Ministry of Communications indicate that there were 35,283,957 telephone subscribers in Ghana as of 2015.
Mobile data subscribers as of December 2015 stood at 18,031,188. The number represented teledensity of 129.85 per cent.
Presently, there are more than five telephone operators in the country.
According to Dr Boamah, “this provides a big platform for innovative and creative mobile applications to enhance our daily lives. And we are experiencing a lot of that — mobile money, e-services with the advent of smart phones, e-health, e-education”.
Dr Boamah also said “currently, the increase in internet penetration across the country means more people are using mobile services. Unfortunately, this penetration means that consumers are using more than one service provider for the same services but for different reasons”.
He said ultimately, the introduction of a domestic roaming service would be advantageous to the police and other security officers in the event of crisis and the provision of information to the police.
Dr Boamah said the government sought to continuously partner stakeholders in all sectors to provide the appropriate environment to promote the adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) tools to help increase trade competitiveness within and outside the country.
Due to their more reliable communication channels, ICTs, he said, promoted competitiveness of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and facilitated the creation of more flexible links with trading partners.
Dr Boamah added that the government had not considered a ban on the use of social media such as Whatsapp or Facebook to make calls or to provide other communications services.
Rather, he called on regulators, together with operators and consumers to come together and find a middle ground for the service to benefit all as it was an emerging trend which could not be done away with.
He said “the reality of today’s telecommunication industry is that consumers are in control. Consumers love innovation, flexibility, efficiency, comfort, and more often than not, low-cost alternatives and will always seek them out to enhance their livelihoods”.
The minister commended the private sector and CSOs operating in the industry for their massive investments and contributions to the growth of the communication sector which was driving several aspects of national life.
A representative of the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr Abdul Yakubu, in a keynote address, said young people in the country were interested in ICT and, therefore, called on the government to invest in young innovators.
The Director-General of the NCA, Mr William Tevie, said the ICT sector was among the most profitable and successful areas which had revolutionised communication in the world.