MTN Ghana Capitalize On Child-Kayayei to amass more cash

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Ghana can make headway in its efforts to end child labour if traditional authorities, politicians and other relevant stakeholders put their acts together to stop the seasonal migration of children from the northern regions to cities like Accra and Kumasi.

mtnboardAn informal survey conducted by Public Agenda in some major markets in Accra has revealed that hundreds of Children as young as 12 years have taken over the markets and working as head porters, commonly referred in local parlance as ‘Kayayei.’ The children who are supposed to be in school were seen carrying heavy loads and doing menial jobs at local food joints.

The markets surveyed were the Mallam Atta, Nima, Agbogbloshie, Darkuman, Madina, Tema station and Kantamanto.

Some of the children sleep in front of stores and in uncompleted buildings, while others sleep in the open, exposing them to both health and social hazards, including defilement.

“These are all our people, Ghanaian citizens and they deserve better. I pity them when I see them but there is nothing I can do,” laments Madam Memuna Issah, a food vendor at the Nima market. “If we can’t help the mothers in terms of education, we should help their children because we need to break the cycle of poverty in the north by ensuring that these children are in school. Education is key to breaking the poverty cycle,” she added.

She could not fathom why parents in the north should allow their children to migrate to the south to work as a head porters, adding, “We [society] need to enact a law to stop them from coming to engage in such jobs at this tender age.”

In another interview, the Queen mother of the Mallam Atta Market, Asafoanye Ogbede, expresses worry about the continuous influx of children in the market.

She describes the situation as alarming and says it has become a source of worry to the leadership of the respective markets in Accra.

She explains, “As a queen mother of the Market, my responsibility is to ensure the welfare of traders as well as the development of the market, but I can’t stop them(children) from coming. We need all hands on board to solve this problem.”

She notes that though government, through the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, is doing its best to arrest the situation, all other stakeholders including, traditional authorities, opinion leaders, parliamentarians and interest groups must help to arrest the situation.

However, while government and well-meaning Ghanaians are working hard to address the migration of these children and for that matter the kayayei phenomenon, the country’s leading Telecommunication Network , MTN, is enticing the children to migrate to the south with an initiative dubbed ‘Project Kaya.’

The project involves the distribution of head pans to the Kayayei by MTN thereby encouraging them to save their daily earnings on their phones through MTN Mobile Money.

The project also seeks to create “opportunity” for Kayayei, who are registered users of the Mobile Money service, to access assistance from MTN based on their savings in order to undertake business ventures, educate their children, go into apprenticeship trainings, among others.

Addressing over hundreds Kayayei in Madina recently as reported by Newsghana.com, MTN Mobile Money Implementation Manager, Eric Yeboah Asiamah, said, MTN was committed to supporting communities where it operated; hence had over the years, came up with innovating projects that inured to the benefits of the people.

According to him, MTN Project Kaya was one of such initiatives that MTN put in place to support the communities, especially Kayayei, instilling in them the habit of savings and also to help them move on well in life.

He noted that not all the Kayayei were willing to be in the business for the rest of their lives, but would like to stop at a point and what they do after that was much important to MTN.

“That is why we are coming in. MTN, through this initiative, is giving them the opportunity to save through our Mobile Money platform, and based on their savings we offer them the necessary assistance they need. Financially, we can help them by establishing their businesses, those who want to go into other apprenticeship trainings will have the funds to do so and others who want to educate their children by sending them to school will also be assisted.”

The event with Kayayei in the Madina Market was the third in series organized by MTN after it held similar project in Agbogbloshie and Tema station respectively.

The company has over the years, made significant progress with the service and it is worth stressing that MTN Mobile Money has grown from a subscriber base of about 5,000 to 4.8m as at the end of July, 2015 with the service boasting of monthly transaction volumes in excess of 18.5 million.

MTN Mobile Money, the first Mobile Money transfer service in Ghana is one of the main architects of the drive towards a cash lite. The MTN Mobile Money Service is manifold and explicitly verifiable from its phenomenal success in the financial sector.

Since the introduction of the MTN Mobile Money Service in Ghana in 2009, the service has narrowed the pool of unbanked persons in Ghana and signed on more than 1.5 million active subscribers while recording a total of about 20 million monthly transactions.

Source: Mohammed Suleman / Public Agenda

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