Government Sponsored Telecommunication Masks Across The Country Going Waste!!

Assemblemen for Bowiri Takrabe electoral area in the Biakoye District of Oti Region and Adudornu electoral area in the North Tongu District of Volta Region are very worried.

Could this be another example of improper planning and/or financial loss to the state?

Are telecommunication networks more driven by huge profits at the expense of social responsibility?

How long would it take to put these national assets to use?

Available mobile telecommunication networks could be an incentive for government workers like teachers and health workers to accept posting to the affected communities and/or even retain existing government workers in those communities.

The country, Ghana, is divided into three main classes based on the level of mobile telecommunication networks available in cities, towns and villages. While some suburbs have access to high quality mobile networks in the form of 4G and 3G networks, which allow fast internet connectivity, other suburbs and towns have access to 2G and edge networks with their attendant slow internet connectivity. While those with slow internet connectivity networks complain about their mobile networks, there are vast communities that do not have access to any form of mobile network to even make a phone call.

The major reason mobile networks are not available in most communities, especially rural areas, is the business module the telecommunication networks companies operate with. The telcos are profit-driven and are reluctant to invest in places they consider unprofitable. Investment by telcos in connecting rural areas and suburbs to mobile telephony networks is therefore unnecessary, according to them. Unavailable mobile telephony networks in those communities have become a disincentive for workers and businesses whose services are needed in those places, therefore widening the service delivery gap between urban areas and rural areas.

In an attempt to bridge the digital divide, the Government of Ghana, through GIFEC, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication, decided to embark on the erection of telecommunication masks across the country in communities not yet connected to the telephone networks. At the end, many masks were erected in various communities but are unfunctional over a year after they were mounted. According to some regional managers who were spoken to, the masks or pylons have duly been installed over a year now, but what is delaying is the telecommunication network companies coming on board to hook their telephony networks on the masks. The assemblymen for most of the electoral areas where these masks have been erected claim otherwise, that the project has stalled and been abandoned. Notable among them are Hon. Gearge Agbenyegah Takyi, the assemblyman for Bowiri Takrabe electoral area in the Biakoye District of Oti Region and Hon. Zate Gameli Kobla, the assemblyman for Adudornu electoral area in the North Tongu District of Volta Region. To compound the fears of the assemblymen, the corporate affairs department of GIFEC, however, said the delay in putting the masks to use was due to technical challenges that needed to be resolved and not because anyone refused to put the masks to good use. The specifics of any technical issues were not disclosed either. A promise to provide a brief report or document concerning the masks to calm the fears of stakeholders was also not delivered.

It is currently unclear when the telephone mask will be put to good use for which it was built, since enquiries for timelines to the GIFEC regional office for Oti Region was referred to the corporate affairs department on the excuse that it is in the right position to manage public relations and information. The corporate affairs department reluctantly indicated a three-month timeline to activate the masks.

Some of the electoral areas and their immediate environs which will continue to lack mobile networks for indefinite years ahead despite telephone masks in their vicinity are Adudornu electoral area in North Tongu District of Volta Region, Bowiri Takrabe electoral area, Bowiri Odumanase electoral area, Bowiri Amamfrom electoral area and Bowiri Aboabo electoral area, all in Biakoye District of Oti Region. However, the people in these electoral areas through their assemblymen are appealing to the government to marshal all the forces in its arsenal to get the telecom networks to bring mobile networks to their communities, if indeed, the masks installed are complete and fit for purpose, as emphasized by the GIFEC regional office for Oti Region. The assemblymen are also appealing to the telecom companies to put into use the masks installed by the government at a cost that the telecoms did not have to bear. The assemblymen asked the telcos to consider their locations as social intervention areas since their population and usage may be considered unprofitable.

Interesting to enquire would be the memorandum of understanding adopted between the Government of Ghana and the telcos regarding the time frame of usage of these masks before they were mounted, if indeed it is the telcos resisting the usage of the masks. Or it will just be another source of public fund wastage and financial loss to the state by governments from time immemorial.

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