GSMA, DFID in Alliance to Push Ghana into Mobile-enabled Digital Transformation

Head of Sub-Saharan Africa, GSMA, Akinwale Goodluck

The GSMA, DFID, and are in an alliance with the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Ghanaian Government and UNDP to help Ghana harness the power of mobile to deliver life-enhancing services and support the SDGs in Ghana Details about the initiative were unveiled at at a high-level roundtable between the Government of Ghana and mobile industry leaders when the GSMA launched a report in partnership with the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), examining the transformative opportunities presented by mobile-enabled digital services in Ghana. The meeting, which was 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. A statement from the GSMA disclosed that participants signed a communiqué committing to maximise opportunities for mobile 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 while commenting on the development noted that mobile 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. He said: “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.” Also speaking on the sideline of the meeting,Head of DFID Ghana and Liberia, Philip Smith said that the “DFID recognises that out of all communication tools, mobile technology is the first to reach across geographies, income levels and cultures” saying that “for this reason, we see mobile technology as vital for sustainable development across a wide range of government sectors and departments. DFID are proud to be supporting this collaboration with our partners from the GSMA and UNDP, and look forward to supporting the outcomes of the National Dialogu.” UNDP Ghana Country Director, Dominic Sam observed that few other technologies have grown so fast and have had so much to offer in terms of new ways of delivering services, stimulating businesses, enabling citizens to have their voices heard and countries to leapfrog development models to achieve their goals. He added that the UNDP is very pleased to partner with the GSMA and UK Government in this dialogue to design solutions and explore opportunities to do this faster and more sustainably in Ghana. The report highlighted 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 has 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 noted that despite this progress, significant challenges remain, many of which require collaboration between the public and private sectors. For example, there is a gender gap in Ghana of approximately 16 per cent in mobile phone ownership and 17 per cent in the use of mobile money services, with an even higher gap (56 %) in use of the internet, with 2.5 million fewer women online than men. Mobile operators are working to tackle this through programmes such as the GSMA Connected Women Commitment initiative, while governments can take steps to address this issue by integrating gender equality targets and key performance indicators into strategies, policies, plans and budgets, involving women and local communities. 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 a tool they can use to achieve their development targets. As follow-on from the meeting, participants agreed to establish a technical working group focusing on implementation of collective actions that the group will undertake to make the 2030 agenda and digital transformation for Ghana a reality. Isaiah Erhiawarien, West Africa

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