THE government would continue to pursue policies and programmes in the telecommunications sector to bring competition, improved services and lower prices.
The Minister of Communications, Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, gave the assurance when he inaugurated one out of the 40 Common Telecommunications Facility Sites completed across the country at Fetentaa, a farming community in the Berekum Municipality in the Brong Ahafo Region, last weekend.
The centres which were funded through the Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GIFTEL) at a cost of $110,000 each, are meant to provide co-location access to telecommunications operators willing to operate in the beneficiary communities, provide telecommunications access and connectivity to the communities.
The sites are also to assist operators to cut down the cost of putting up a mast in every community as well as checking the proliferation of masts in the country.
Fetentaa can have access to all the various mobile networks as well as access to Internet connectivity, which had no access previously.
Dr Ntim said even though there had been a major expansion in the country’s telecommunications sector, the distribution of fixed and mobile phone infrastructure was still concentrated in major economic centres, whereas rural areas lacked telecommunications facility.
“It is for this reason that the government set up the Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GIFTEL) to mobilise funds for the provision of Universal Access to Telecommunications to serve remote communities,” he stressed.
Dr Ntim noted further that the fund would achieve universal access to telecommunications throughout all communities and regions in the country by the year 2010 as well as facilitating the expansion of telephone service penetration to at least 50 per cent of the country’s population by the same period.
The minister commended the chiefs and people of Fetentaa for donating the land for the construction of the site and called on all the telecommunications operators to take advantage to co-locate on the facilities to benefit from the economy of scale so that communications penetration in rural areas would move faster and at affordable rates.
He also entreated the people to help protect the facility and consider it as their own project and not that of the telecommunications operators or the government.
Dr Ntim appealed to municipal and district assemblies not to charge exorbitant business operating permit rates from telecommunication companies willing to operate in their various communities so as to encourage them to move into deprived areas.
He pledged that now that the facility was ready for use, the Fetentaa Junior High and the Jinjini Senior High schools would have connectivity to the Internet.
The Berekum Municipal Chief Executive (MCE), Mr Kwabena Kyere-Yeboah, on behalf of the chiefs and people of Fetentaa, thanked the government for providing the facility.
He, however, appealed to the Ministry of Communications to speed up the construction of the Berekum Community Information Centre (CIC), which is still at the foundation level.