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Internet Connections Have Changed Ghana for the Better

The information superhighway has blazed a trail across Ghana in ways that few would have expected. From a few initial connections back in 1995 to vast networks of cables providing internet services to 34.3% of the population, Ghana is now one of the most connected countries in Africa. In fact, thanks to the Information and […]

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IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com
IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com

The information superhighway has blazed a trail across Ghana in ways that few would have expected. From a few initial connections back in 1995 to vast networks of cables providing internet services to 34.3% of the population, Ghana is now one of the most connected countries in Africa. In fact, thanks to the Information and Communication Technology for Accelerated Development (ICT4AD) program, usage has soared since 2005.

Introduced by the government as a strategic plan to boost socio-economic development using ICT, the policy caused a spike in online services. Indeed, between 2000 and 2017, the number of Ghanaian internet users soared from 30,000 to over 10 million (a 33,600% increase). Although population penetration is still a far cry from that of the US (78%+-) or the UK (81%+), growth over the last two decades has ushered in a wave of change.

eCommerce Kickstarts a Wave of Change

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay.com

As well as internet service providers (ISPs) such as BusyInternet joining the three originals, Network Computer Systems, Africa Online and Ghana Internet Services, online businesses have flourished. Our own platform has become a go-to source for news and information, but waters run much deeper. As noted in 2016, Ghana is now transitioning into an e-commerce savvy culture. Although South Africa leads the way with 51% of the population shopping online, Ghana is making headway. What’s more, stores have reported 23% growth year-on-yearby having a dual offline/online presence. Moreover, for online-only sites, annual growth rates are now 9%. Interestingly, it’s not all international brands coming in and taking over. Unsurprisingly, Amazon and eBay currently have a dominant presence in Ghana.

However, one of Ghana’s first e-commerce sites, eShopAfrica, has been trading since 2001. As well as being a homegrown entity, the company sells traditional African artefacts, clothing and jewelry to the world. This ability to sell goods and service outside of Ghana has provided the country with a real economic lift. Yes, helping Ghanaians access more things online has roused entrepreneurs and given locals access to more information. However, by connecting Ghanaian businesses to the world, GDP has improved. According to Knoema, growth has risen from 6.3% in 2006 to 8.4% in 2017 and the internet has helped contribute to this. What’s also interesting to note is the recent rise in mobile internet connectivity. As of 2016, penetration had increased 128% compared to the 2015. With more than 35 million people now accessing the internet via their smartphones, mobile services are flourishing.

Internet on the Go Opens the Doors to New Innovations

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In 2018, MoneyGram and ZeePay partnered to increase mobile money transfers. Being a Ghanaian financial services company, ZeePay provides online wallets and debit cards for locals. By combining these provisions with international money transfer network MoneyGram, it’s estimated mobile remittances in Ghana will hit $1 billion each year. Beyond processing money, access to entertainment has increased. YouTube and Facebook are popular, as are local streaming services like DStv. However, the evolution of mobile internet has also opened the doors to other forms of entertainment. Online gaming is a $51 billion industry according to Statista and Ghanaians are now part of it. At Betway Casino, there are 400 casino gamesto choose from, including live dealer innovations that allow players to connect with real people. This ability to play roulette via a mobile live stream is a testament to how advanced Ghana’s online services have become.

Of course, we’re still not in a position where everyone has access to the internet. However, the National Communications Authority (NCA) is pushing to change that. Rural areas are currently underserved, which is why the NCA has called on mobile network providers Vodafone, MTN Ghana and the recently integrated Airtel and Tigoto increase data accessibility. By giving those in rural areas favorable mobile data rates, the NCA is vying to achieve a 50% penetration rate within the next few years. If that happens, it would not only cement Ghana’s position as a leading tech hub in Africa but bolster its fortunes. From improving the daily lives of locals to raising GDP, the internet has been a force for good over the last two decades. Moving into a new decade, this is unlikely to change, meaning we’re likely to see more innovations in the coming years.

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