The Minister of Communications Hon. Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has emphasized that Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) – an agency of the Ministry of Communications plays a critical role in the digital transformation in the undeserved and unserved communities in Ghana and has therefore entreated the need for all staff/employees of the agency to work as a team to achieve this set objective.
The Hon. Minister made this known when she paid a courtesy call on the agency on Thursday, April 20, 2017 as part of her familiarization visit of some of the agencies under her ministry. She was accompanied by her two deputies Hon. George Andah, Hon. Vincent Sowah Odotei and the Director of Finance and Administration of Ministry of Communications, Mr. K. A. Tabi.
In his introductory remarks, Mr. A. Kofi Asante, Acting Administrator/ Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) welcomed and thanked the Minister and her deputies for the visit and the honor done to GIFEC.
Mr. Kofi Asante said, GIFEC exists to help bridge the digital gap in the underserved and unserved communities in the country through provision of internet connectivity and access to communities, schools, marine, island, development of ICT applications, deployment of computers and accessories to the disadvantaged communities and organizing ICT capacity building programmes for people. He said with the help of GIFEC artisans such as carpenters, hairdressers, welders and drivers have been trained in Information and Communication Technology (ICT), he said drivers for instance have benefited a great deal in the training received as one of the requirements to attain a drivers license as they sit for computerized exams.
Mr. Asante however, stressed the need for the agency to re-strategise on its programmes and also focus on projects that are sustainable. He also reiterated the need to work to save money and also achieve value for money. He said the agency this year will focus more on new projects, that is, the Zongo Development Initiative, the Disability Initiative and the Cocoa Community Initiative alongside addressing problem associated with old projects. He said GIFEC will also collaborate with the coalition for Affordable Internet (A4AI) to help make internet affordable to all Ghanaians.
Mr. Kofi Asante also touched on GIFEC plans to collaborate with Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and Ghana Grid Company Limited (GRIDCO) to take advantage of their fiber optic to deploy internet to the underserved and unserved communities.
On 112 Emergency call centre, the administrator stressed on the need to engage Bureau for National Communication (BNC) and ZTE Corporation to help strengthen the technical and operational challenges associated with the Centre.
He emphasized the need to engage the Research, Monitoring and Evaluation Department more on projects activities.
Mr. Henry Agyeman Boateng, Acting Director of Finance and Administration of Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) in his statement indicated to the minister the various departments that provide support to enable the Secretariat function and achieve its mandate. He said the one percent (1%) contribution to the Fund by the various telecos is being received but was quick to add that these contributions however keeps dropping in percentage terms on yearly basis.
He also stressed our inability to collect the one percent (1%) from the Internet Service Providers (ISP) but was quick to add that attempt are being made through the National Communication Authority (NCA) to rope them in. He mentioned the various sources of funds as spelt out in the Act and indicated how useful the income from fixed deposit investments have been to the Fund.
The Minister of Communications Hon. Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful in her address said GIFEC is the vehicle the government is using to serve the underserved communities. She retreated that, it is incumbent on the agency to ensure that their core mandate is realised by serving the large part of the country that have not experience digital transformation. She said if there is one thing that all the members of parliament are united about then is the work of GIFEC, its work of extending digital services to the underserved and unserved communities”.
The Hon. Minister who once was a board member of Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GIFTEL) now Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) said she already has a fair idea of activities of GIFEC and mentioned the fact that she had worked with the current administrator before and even saw to the recruitment of some staff in the past.
The Hon. Minister advised GIFEC not to build new 112 emergency centres but make sure the five existing centres are managed effectively and efficiently to achieve its stated objectives. The two deputy ministers Hon. George Andah and Hon. Vincent Sowah Odotei were introduced to the gathering with Hon. Sowah being introduced as the deputy assigned to GIFEC.
Mr. A. Kofi Asante, Ag. Administrator of GIFEC in his closing remarks thanked the Hon. Minister and her deputies and assured them of the total staff support and reiterated that staff of GIFEC will work very hard to move the organization forward.