Gov’t Won’t Ban WhatsApp, Viber Calls -Omane Boamah Reiterates

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By Gifty Arthur

The Communications Minister, Dr. Edward Kofi Omane Boamah, has reiterated government’s assurance not to ban voice calls on social media platforms, such as Viber, WhatsApp, Imo, among others.

This puts to rest earlier reports in the media that, government through the National Communication Authority (NCA), was contemplating banning that service, following petitions from the various telecommunication companies in the country citing revenue loss.

The report, which was received with outright condemnation by subscribers, was later followed with a statement from the NCA, explaining that the information was not wholly true.

But speaking at this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) at the Accra International Conference Centre (AICC) yesterday, Dr. Boamah, further allayed fears reiterating that, government was doing no such thing.

Dr. Boamah, said government believed the regulator (NCA) together with operators and the customers, should be able to discuss the way forward, so as to find a common ground, because “the reality of today’s telecommunication Industry is that consumers are in control”.

He explained that, “Consumers love innovation, flexibility, efficiency, comfort, and more often than not, low-cost alternatives and will always seek
them out to enhance their livelihoods”, adding “Our mandate should be to seek a balanced approach such that all stakeholders in this industry have their needs fulfilled. It is also imperative for us to learn from other countries and understand why they have or have not encouraged this trend of affairs”.

Dr. Omane-Boamah assured, “I wish to state emphatically that Government is not and has not in any way considered a ban on OTT services. We believe that as an emerging trend, the regulator, together with operators and consumers should find a middle ground which befits our peculiar situation.

To this end, we wish to reiterate that we recognise the media as development partners and as such, we need your support in communicating accurate and verified messages to the public”.

This year’s celebration was under the theme, “ICT entrepreneurship for social impact”, in accordance with Resolution 68 and as endorsed by ITU Council 2015.

It is in line with ITU work in unlocking the potential of ICTs for young innovators and entrepreneurs, innovative SMEs, start-ups, and technology hubs as drivers of innovative and practical solutions for catalysing progress in achieving international sustainable development goals, with a focus on SMEs from developing countries.

The minister, said the rapid growth of the digital economy presents huge opportunities for development, creating global markets for applications and services, reducing the cost of doing business and unleashing creativity and innovation.

He maintained that, the internet can contribute significantly to the economy, economic growth, job creation and innovation in the development of new services and applications.

“ICT plays a large role in our day-to-day lives and addresses challenges facing Ghanaians in general. As earlier stated, sectors such as finance, health, education, agriculture etc. are quickly embracing technology for dissemination of information, enhancement of service delivery and to reach beneficiaries more effectively and efficiently.

He mentioned the ever growing new way of sending moneys to families, friends, and business partners which is competing strongly against banks, mobile money, as one, which is changing the Ghanaian way of doing business and sending moneys.

“The growth of mobile money for instance in the country has motivated change in the business model of most financial institutions in the country and has ultimately led to jobs in most areas across the country. The innovative products that you offer the consuming public make it imperative to create the enabling ICT environment to nurture and grow entrepreneurs with creative ideas within these sectors”.

According to him, one other major aim of government beyond the efforts being made by the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC) was it quest to consider the case for Domestic Roaming.

He explained that “Traditional GSM Roaming was “the ability for a cellular customer to automatically make and receive voice calls, send and receive data, or access other services, including home data services, when travelling outside the geographical coverage area of the home network, by means of using a visited network”.

“Domestic” or “National” roaming is when the geographical area where the customer roams is within the same country as the customer’s mobile operator.

If implemented, it will stimulate, promote and encourage innovation and furthermore provide the required quality of service while developing a reliable communications infrastructure.

“This service will enable mobile users to switch from one network to the other in the event of network failure. Furthermore, this will ultimately be of an advantage to the police and other security officers in the event of crisis and mass information”, he assured.

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