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15.10.2004 General News

Ghana to become ICT hub, says Kan-Dapaah

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Accra, Oct. 15, GNA - Ghana is moving courageously and steadily towards its goal of becoming an Information and Communication Technology (ICT) hub in West Africa, Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, the Minister of Communication, told Parliament on Friday.

"The National Telecommunication policy has been revised to redefine the framework within which the telecommunication sector will evolve towards the objective to promote the development of Ghana as a distinct and productive player in the global information society."

Mr Kan Dapaah, who was briefing the House on the revised ICT policy, said the final document clearly defined a formal market structure, institutional roles and development priorities. He said the purpose of the revised policy was to ensure, among other things, the universal access for all communities and population groups in Ghana to telephone and use Internet and multimedia service by the year 2010.

"National penetration of universal telecommunications service to reach 25 per cent of the population, including at least 10 per cent in rural areas, by the year 2010."

He said the revised policy would seek to ensure the connection of all schools, medical clinics and government offices and public and community broadcasting stations to advanced telecommunications services. "Fully open, private and competitive markets for all telecommunications; affordable prices for telecommunication services, particularly for low income citizens would be attained."

The Minister said under the policy, licensing and regulation would be technologically neutral to encourage economically efficient and innovative market development.

"The interest of consumers in obtaining high quality, accessible and affordable telecommunications services shall be the primary objective of all policy and regulatory decision" Mr Kan Dapaah said in order to encourage maximum participation in the sector; the National Communication Authority's licensing and authorization regime shall be simple, open, non-discriminatory and transparent.

"The NCA' tariff regulation practices shall aim to establish cost-oriented prices for all regulated services." He said that under the policy, Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunication (GIFTEL) would be an investment fund for collecting financial contributions from telecommunication sector licences, which shall be distributed to promote universal access and universal service. The Minister commended the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communication for its comments and inputs in the shaping of the policy.

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