Minister of Communication, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has disclosed that her ministry is in talks with the Ghana Education Service (GES) to re-visit its decision on the ban of mobile phone use among second-cycle students across the country.
This, she said, has become imperative because the communication ministry, in collaboration with its stakeholders, is in the process of providing mobile phones installed with school syllabus and other learning materials to students to enable them do away with carrying large notebooks and textbooks to school.
The phones, she explained, before they are provided to students, will have restrictions to all undesirable contents in order for government to achieve its target from the new policy.
Recently, authorities of Karaga Senior High School in the Northern Region seized and burnt over 100 mobile phones belonging to students.
The burning of the phones was to reinforce strict compliance with the ban on the use of mobile phones in all second-cycle schools, but Ekuful says there is a possible amendment of that decision at the end of the discussion with the GES.
She hinted this at a press conference that followed a national dialogue on mobile-enabled digital transformation as part of this year's National Cyber Week.
The dialogue was to address how mobile phones could be used to attain government goals of transforming the country's economy and also to scale up cyber-defence.
At a high-level meeting as part of the national dialogue between the Government of Ghana and mobile industry leaders, Global System for Mobile Communication Association (GSMA) launched a partnership with the UK's Department for International Development (DFID), to examine the transformative opportunities presented by mobile-enabled digital services in Ghana.
The meeting, held in partnership with DFID, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), discussed how Ghana can advance digital and economic inclusion through mobile devices.
Participants signed a communiqué committing to maximise opportunities for mobile devices to support the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in a range of areas including agriculture, gender equality, financial service access, innovation and entrepreneurship.
Head of sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck stated that mobile phone offers the most widespread and inclusive means of accessing the internet and digital technologies, which are vital to the Ghanaian economy and its growth in an increasingly connected world.
“Mobile is the key to unlocking digital transformation, and I am very excited about future potential and to see our member operators building on the good work already started through the dialogue they have undertaken today,” she added.
The report highlights how the mobile industry and the Ghanaian government can work together to support social and economic progress in the country.
Ghana is already proactively supporting the SDGs and has incorporated them into the country's national development agenda, with progress overseen by the President.
Government commitment to the SDGs reflects the fact that while Ghana is a fast-growing economy and has made progress on many fronts, development challenges and gaps in access to basic services persist.
Given the large number of people who have access to mobile phones, mobile platforms are uniquely placed to support the SDGs.
The industry has connected 67 per cent of the population in Ghana; nearly half the population has mobile internet access, with penetration in Ghana now the second highest in West Africa.
Further, mobile phones have connected eight million individuals to financial services, supported farmers and provided access to health information, clean energy and more, underscoring the vital role mobile technology can play in supporting sustainable development in Ghana.
However, the report also notes that despite this progress, significant challenges remain, many of which require collaboration between the public and private sectors.
The participants of the roundtable acknowledged the transformative impact of mobile communication on the people and economy of Ghana, and celebrated Ghana's commitment to the SDGs under the direction of President Akufo-Addo.
The roundtable emphasised the need for the public and private sectors to work hand in hand, as well as across many different government agencies that may not typically consider mobile device a tool they can use to achieve their development targets.
As a follow-up on the meeting, participants agreed to establish a technical working group focused on implementation of collective actions that the group will undertake to make the 2030 agenda and digital transformation for Ghana a reality.