Government will within the next 18-24 months, provide connectivity to all unserved and underserved communities through the expanded Rural Telephony Project.
The project will cover 2000 communities across the country.
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, said, “We are determined to leave no one behind as connectivity is as important as water or electricity”.
The Minister, speaking during a sod-cutting ceremony in Asuom in the Kwaebibirem District of the Eastern Region, said if government has not realised this before, then the COVID-19 pandemic has taught them this lesson.
She said ICT facilitates every aspect of human lives; from health, education, commerce, entertainment, governance, agriculture and many more.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said every Ghanaian must have access to this transformational tool but sadly most do not and although a lot has been done to provide access to affordable internet and narrow the digital divide, much still needs to be done to provide ICT inclusiveness in Ghana.
She said the Ministry, through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), has led the expansion of ICT infrastructure and services to underserved and unserved communities across the country through the implementation of various universal access programmes and projects.
Key amongst the GIFEC initiatives is the Community ICT Centres (CICs) project, which seeks to provide access to ICT services in communities without such facilities.
The CICs are all equipped with computers and internet service, and now more than ever, are playing a very important role as learning centres for pupils and students during this period when schools have been closed.
She said the youth could keep up with their academic work and access various e-Learning tools and platforms from the CICs even if they do not have internet at home.
She said GIFEC also serves as connectivity hubs for Ministries, Departments and Agencies, health facilities, educational institutions and, even online businesses to utilize for their work.
“These agencies will be required to pay a small fee to cover the operational expenses of the CICs,” she added.
She said the Centre managers have been equipped with the relevant know-how to guide all the users of the facilities, be they young or old, professionals and non- professionals, literate and non-literate in how their use of the Centre can be beneficial, whiles ensuring that all relevant COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing are observed.
Mr Abraham Kofi Asante, Administrator of GIFEC, said the Minister through the Fund was determined to empower communities and close the digital skills gap.
He said the Ministry would continue to deploy the needed ICT infrastructure and innovations to reach into the heart of communities to empower people with the digital competencies to thrive.
“ICT was key to transforming the Ghanaian economy and setting it on a path to prosperity,” he added.