Accra, Nov. 9, GNA - Ghana on Tuesday initiated its programme to extend communications facilities to the rural communities following the launch of the Ghana Investment Fund for Communication Development (GIFTEL). The programme aims at accelerating the development of the rural communities where such facilities were generally limited.
The source of money for the fund would come from operators' licenses, Parliamentary allocation, profits from investments made by the board of the fund as well as grants, donations and other voluntary contributions.
A Board of trustees consisting of 10 members representing all operators, the National Communications Authority, Parliament and the Ministry of Communication, would administer the fund.
Launching the fund, Communications Minister Albert Kan-Dapaah said Ghana had been an active participant in the global discussion on deployment of Information Communications Technology (ICT) for socio-economic development.
"It is in this direction that the country's national policy focuses on 14 pillars or priorities for national development. "
The policy, he said, had been designed to respond to the challenges in meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and as a plan of action to connect villages, schools, colleges, universities, health centres and central government departments with ICT.
He said the noble achievement could only be made when there was a clear-cut direction for the growth of the communication sector, hence the necessity for a universal Fund like GIFTEL.
Mr. Kan-Dapaah said government had approached the issue of access to communication as a basic right of all citizens because it provided a platform for the delivery of government services to public areas such as health, education, and commerce and emergency services.
"Indeed, it needs a combinations of carrot and stick to persuade private operators to extend services to rural areas that are ordinarily considered un-economic", he said.
Government, he said, had therefore provided an enabling environment through forward-looking policies and regulations to encourage private sector investment into the communications industry. Improved communication services, he said, would be enhanced if GIFTEL could be operationalised to enable the telecom operators and other institution contribute to telecom development in the rural and underserved areas.
In a speech read on his behalf, Information Minister Nana Akomea, said the establishment of the fund testified to the strength of partnership that had developed between the public and private sector in business and that it goes to support government confidence in the private sector as the growth for the Ghanaian economy.
The role of Government, he said was essentially to provide an enabling environment through favourable policies and well-defined regulations He noted that is was assuring that the industry itself had come out with a financing mechanism to compliment government effort in the provision of telecom services to the rural areas.
He commended the intent to bridge the local digital divide saying: " This has been a positive improvement to the communication landscape of the country".
Mr. Dickson Oduro Nyaning, Deputy Chief Executive of Ghana Telecom, on behalf of the operators pledged their support to contribute regularly to the fund to bring communication to the doorstep of both the urban and rural areas.