Home Science Technology MTN Ghana Urged to Approach “Digital Operator” Agenda with Caution

MTN Ghana Urged to Approach “Digital Operator” Agenda with Caution

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The Founders and CEO of Edel Technology Consulting, Ethel Coffie has advised MTN Ghana not to rush and suspend their USSD channels and compel all customers to use digital channels any time soon.

He argument was based on the cost of data compared to incomes in Ghana and Africa as a whole.

She was speaking as a panellist during the Mobile Technology for Development (MT4D) session at the 3i Africa Summit in Accra.

Her submission was in response to an earlier statement by the Chief Digital Officer of MTN Ghana, Dario Bianchi that MTN believes all customers must be moved from USSD channels (short codes) to the use of digital channels such as the web platforms and apps like MyMTN, MoMo and the Ayoba Apps as well social media channels to access services on MTN.

This was not the first time Bianchi has made that statement in a public forum. The first time was during MTN Business Roundtable last year, where his own colleague Sylvia Acheampong from MTN MoMo cautioned that it will counterproductive to rush the shutdown of USSD channels because at the time, only about 450,000 out of over 13 million MTN MoMo customers were using digital channels.

Indeed, MTN Ghana originally set out to become a complete digital operator in 2023, but that deadline had to be abandoned to align with the MTN Group’s Agenda 2025, strategy. So now Dario Bianchi and his digital team have a charge to ensure a complete transition from USSD to digital by 2025.

This time around, Bianchi explained that the company was also mindful of persons who have different abilities, which prevent them from using USSD channels effectively, but will be able to use digital channels easily. He cited visually impaired persons and people who cannot read as examples.

But Ethel Coffie pushed back, saying “I think in a market where a gigabyte of data costs more than one percent of the average income of the country, we cannot be over optimistic – we must meet people where they are.”

She noted that it is important to push the digitalization agenda from both the commercial (private sector) and altruistic (government) perspectives, but until the problem of affordability is solves, “let’s work with what we have.”

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