Vice President John Dramani Mahama has urged the country’s telecommunication companies to consider offloading some of their shares on the Ghana Stock Exchange (GSE) to allow for participation of Ghanaians.
He said after 10 years of liberalization of the Telecommunication sector it was now time for the companies to open up to enable Ghanaians to acquire stakes and to share in the growing influence and gains in the sector.
The Vice President’s comment comes after recent calls by stakeholders for a capital market local content provision to encourage companies in the mining, oil and gas and telecommunication sectors to float shares on the local bourse after five years of operation in the country.
Vice President Mahama, who was speaking at the opening session of the third Graphic Business Forum on the theme: “Leveraging ICT and Oil and Gas Resources to Accelerate Ghana’s Economic Development,” said Information and communication technology had become a powerful tool to increase the competitiveness of the small and medium scale enterprises.
Mr Mahama, therefore, called on the SMEs to harness and build close relationship with ICT firms to leverage the opportunities provided by the revolution in communication to enhance efficiency accelerate job creation and business growth. To this end, he said, government was encouraging SMEs in ICT through initiatives aimed at facilitating the active participation of the local ICT industry and services .
These include the promotion of the production of information, knowledge and technology products such as business outsourcing and Technology Parks as well as training in basic skills for use of ICT sector. There is the provision of mentoring and incubation opportunities for start-up companies.
On oil and gas industry, Mr Mahama said the Government was encouraging the development of Offshore Broadband Network to extend optic fibre infrastructure to cover all the oil fields and areas under exploration. This, he said, was so because the availability of unlimited bandwidth capacity will facilitate the transmission of data, and also provide real time monitoring of production activities.
“This is underscored by the fact that the optic fibre possesses enormous advantages over satellite and wireless broadband infrastructure, especially as our oil fields lie in active weather and atmospheric conditions,” he said.
He said the availability of sub-marine cable, being promoted by government as private sector activity, would provide critical service to Ghana’s oil and gas industry and create a supportive environment not only to promote efficiency in operation but also reduce the cost of exploration and oil production in our fields.
Such infrastructure will benefit all the stakeholders, including the investors (who need information promptly at their various sites, security agencies, responsible sector Ministries, production units, etc. The ICT infrastructure will facilitate information-sharing in real time mode, and this will help build confidence and openness in oil and gas operations (including monitoring of volumes being produced and transported).
Besides, as a clear manifestation of government commitment to the transparent and equitable management of the oil resources, Parliament passed into law the Petroleum Revenue Management Act. This, he said, made it possible for government to access resources through the annual budget from oil and gas proceeds for economic development.
The Act also makes room for the setting up of a Stabilization and Heritage Fund to cushion the country against the vicissitudes of global financial trends and to also meet the needs of future generations.
In addition, Parliament has also passed the Petroleum Commission Act to regulate activities in the use of petroleum resources, with a goal to achieving optimal resource exploitation while ensuring sustainable environmental standards.
“Furthermore, Ghana is committed to the principles of the EITI by extending it from the mining sector to include oil and gas and other non-renewable resources,” Mr Mahama said.
The country should also take advantage of ICT to produce energy at cheaper cost to feed industries and also reduce the cost of importing energy at high cost into the country. This will help boost industry and give it the capacity to employ more people, thereby helping to address the problem of unemployment while creating high value jobs.
It is in this direction that government plans to speed up the development of the gas infrastructure project to transport gas from the Jubilee Field to enable it reap the benefit of boosting electricity generation for our industries and to export to neighbouring countries to bring in additional revenue. To this end, government will make the completion of the gas project a priority in order to make gas a major source of energy.
Mr Mahama said all these sectors would not fully benefit the country unless there was a backward integration into the economy by allowing increased local participation in these critical industries,” he said. “Increased local participation will make these companies truly integrated in Ghanaian economy and society,” he added.