Ghana has started the process of developing a new Digital Strategy Policy, that’s according to the Ministry of Communications. Currently, the Ministry has a 2012 Broadband Policy and an outdated Telecoms policy.
In a speech on behalf of the sector minister, Mr Kwasi Agyei Tabi, Director of Finance and Administration reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to work with the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI), a broad coalition of prominent players from the private and public sector as well as civil society to make internet access more affordable for Ghanaians. He told a meeting of the A4AI Coalition that “the Government is keen to start a digital and smart economy which will improve the efficiency of doing government business using ICT as an enabler”.
The goal of the new policy is to harmonise existing ICT policies to take advantage of emerging digital opportunities from finance to education, and technology towards the creation of a knowledge-based economy. The ultimate aim is that all households, public and private business and services will benefit from affordable broadband.
Participants at the coalition meeting agreed there needs to be an increase in sharing of ICT Infrastructure such as towers and cables particularly between telecoms sector and utility companies like the Electricity Company of Ghana, the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCO) and Ghana Railways to reduce the cost of expanding broadband coverage to rural areas. They also proposed that the new policy should include a rule to enforce a ‘One-Stop shop principle’. This will be a unified agency for the issuance of all permits required to roll out ICT infrastructure such as towers and fibre optic cables. This will remove bureaucracy in the vetting of permits and inevitably reduce the cost of providing services to consumers. The call was also made for the policy to seek to open up the digital space for more players, in addition to telecommunications companies, to encourage new technologies and ICT content developers/providers such as C- Square and Facebook.
The keynote speaker was Mr. Kofi Asante, the Administrator of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) which collects 1% of revenues from Telcos to support ICT development in rural areas. His presentation illustrated the progress made and the importance for partnerships between government and the private sector in meeting the aim of affordable broadband access.
The Fund has developed projects and ICT training with private sector companies such as Huawei and MTN. Mr Asante indicated that the fund insisted on at least 60% of female participants for the training projects in order to encourage more women to use the Internet.
A4AI’s Global Head of Policy and Deputy Director, Mrs Eleanor Sarpong who hosted this dialogue reminded participants that “ the expansion of internet services have mainly been driven by mobile internet but over 50% of the world is still unconnected. We urgently need to look at new technologies and partnerships.” She encouraged participants present to be proactive in making inputs at the working group levels to guide government on its policies so everyone can be connected. Ms Onica Makwakwa who is in charge of A4AI operations in Africa praised Ghana for being an early adopter of the “1 for 2” Affordability target which has now been adopted globally by the UN Broadband Commission. She hopes Ghana will continue to lead the way in ensuring that no Ghanaian spends more than 2% of their average monthly income on 1 Gb of data
The A4AI Ghana coalition has 4 working groups focused on Taxation, Data collection and Research Infrastructure Sharing, and Consumer transparency and pricing.
Cedi Not Falling; Dollar Getting Stronger – PEF CEO
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF) Nana Osei Bonsu, has said the Ghanaian cedi is not depreciating as some critics of government have suggested, but rather, it is the U.S. dollar that is gaining strength.
“When the American dollar increases in value it affects everybody else; it’s not that your currency is deteriorating, it’s because that one [dollar] became stronger, and if you compare the dollar to other currencies, we should take comfort that we are not alone.
“It’s the dollar getting stronger, it’s not the cedi deteriorating, so, the two scenarios are different and have different interpretation,” Nana Osei Bonsu told Moro Awudu on the Executive Breakfast Show (EBS) on Class91.3FM on Tuesday, 11 September 2018.
His comments dovetail into assertions by Dr Gideon Boako, who speaks for Vice-President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia on economic issues, that Ghanaians should not be ungrateful to the Akufo-Addo government as far as the weakening of the cedi is concerned, since, in his view, the current government has done a lot to reduce the rate of fall of the local currency from 31% to 6% – a far better record, according to him, than the Mahama administration achieved.
The cedi is nearing the 5 to $1 mark, a situation that has set business people on edge.
“What is important is that; whatever the depreciation was at the time is not the same as today”, Dr Boako told Accra-based Citi TV, adding: “That is why if someone has been able to reduce the rate of depreciation from a point of 31 per cent to 6 per cent, you do not just be ungrateful to that person and say he has not done well.”
It means, he said, “That given the chance that person has what it takes to take you to a point where you have zero depreciation and you can think of how to grow up; that is the most important.
“If you do not situate the argument within that context, you will just be comparing the nominal figures”, Dr. Boako argued.
In his view, “It is important to also note that insofar as we don’t run a fixed exchange rate regime, depreciation is something that will be difficult to say you won’t see it at all.
“You try as much as possible to contain it and make sure you appreciate, but given the structure of our economy right from Guggisberg’s time to Nkrumah to today, the structure of the economy is such that we are mostly net importers, and, so, the trade accounts issued will affect our local currency at all times.
“We also have huge exposure to foreign investors in the country – those who are doing retail businesses and the likes, so they repatriate money outside and all of these will have effect on us”, he explained.
Menzgold; Our business is legit
Head of Communications at Menzgold Ghana Limited, Mr George Quaye, has entreated the gold-trading firm’s clients not to panic and assured them that their investments are safe.
“We are not afraid, we know we are running a legitimate business and everybody is welcome to take a look.
“We encourage our investors to have faith in us, their investments are safe and business at all Menzgold branches are running as usual,” Mr Quaye told Class FM in an interview on Wednesday, 12 September 2018.
In the 3 September 2018 letter signed by Deputy Director General, Paul Ababio, the SEC said: “In September 2017, the SEC issued a public notice indicating that it does not regulate Menzgold. The SEC began further investigations into the activities of Menzgold in July 2018. In August 2018, the Commission called for an inter-sectoral meeting that involved the Minerals Commission, Bank of Ghana and the Securities and Exchange Commission. The Meeting concluded that it is evident Menzgold’s activities appear to go beyond the mandate authorised in its licence”.
The SEC added: “It is our expectation that being your licencee, MINCOM, would call Menzgold to order and direct it to conduct its business in accordance with the licence issued to it by MINCOM”.
It follows several warnings from the Bank of Ghana to the local gold firm, to stop trading in gold without a licence.
The central bank, on 7 August 2018, issued a public notice, the fourth of many, that it was in discussions with relevant regulatory authorities to sanction Menzgold for engaging in “solicitation, receipt of money or investment and the payment of dividends or returns to its clients” without a licence to do so.
The BoG, in an advertorial in the dailies signed by Mrs Caroline Otoo, Secretary to Governor Dr Ernest Addison, said in spite of several of cautions to Menzgold Ghana Company Limited to desist from the act, it persists in its deposit-taking activity in breach of section 6(1) of the Banks and Specialised Deposit-Taking Institutions Act, 2016 (Act 930).
However, Mr Quaye said: “It is unfortunate that a document of this nature will be leaked to the public” by the SEC, and indicated that Menzgold’s legal team is handling the matter.
“It is unfortunate that they could not even wait for us to issue our response on the 14-day mandate they [SEC] gave us, and I think every well-meaning media person should ask themselves: ‘why’,” he noted.
Mr Quaye disclosed that Menzgold is “not worried” if government agencies are doing what they are mandated to do; however, they should ensure that they “do not defeat investor confidence in the bid to sanitise the system”.
“We do not believe we are doing anything wrong,” he underscored.
He stressed that if Menzgold were doing anything illegal, they would have found “excuses not to let them [authorities] know what we do, but we never did that and opened up whole-heartedly just like how we did for the Bank of Ghana (BoG) in times past”.
MODEC Partners With JILMEC
MODEC Inc. (MODEC), a leading provider of competitive floating solutions for the offshore oil and gas industry, is pleased to announce the formation of a joint venture company with JILMEC, an indigenous Ghanaian company with expertise in exploration, production and oilfield logistics services, called MODEC Production Services Ghana JV Limited (MPSG) to provide world class operations and maintenance services in the oil and gas industry in Ghana.
MPSG, leveraging the strengths and scope of the partners, is strategically positioned to lead and grow the Operations and Maintenance sector by contributing global know-how and providing local content to the oil and gas industry in Ghana.
“The formation of MPSG is another step in our journey to build a strong a sustainable business in Ghana, demonstrate the benefits of synergies with local businesses while transferring world class skills and knowledge to grow the industry and the economy”, said David Gleave, MPSG Board Chairman and General Manager.
“This partnership will help us to deliver on our commitments to our client, key stakeholders, our workforce and the community”.
Remarking on the partnership, Joseph Owusu, CEO of JILMEC said “Our combined experience brings real value to this joint venture and will maximize MPSG’s ability and pioneering role in developing solutions to succeed in this market”.
MODEC also announces the closing of business operations of its subsidiary, MODEC Ghana Limited (MGL), which will remain as the major shareholder of MPSG.
All onshore and offshore business operations of the erstwhile MGL has transferred to MPSG