There has been a continued increase in telephone subscription for both fixed and mobile lines as a result of growth in infrastructure development and the positive sustenance of competition in the telecom sector, a report of the Select Committee Communication of Parliament has revealed.
For instance, statistics indicate that the telecom market by the end of August 2010, experienced a growth of 10.8 per cent over the 2009 figure of 15,376,305.
These were contained in the report of the committee on the annual budget estimates of the Ministry of Communications for 2011.
The report was read by the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Felix Twumasi-Appiah, after the sector minister, Mr Iddrisu Haruna, had moved the motion for the approval of a total of GHC 29,547,558 for the operations of the ministry for 2011.
The report indicated that the total access lines presently stood at 16,992,460 at the end of August, this year, explaining that it represented a penetration rate of 73.8 per cent with mobile telephony accounting for 97.97 per cent of the total access lines of about 16,651,168.
On the other hand, fixed access lines increased from 267,389 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 341,292 by the end of August, 2010, representing about 29.6 per cent increase.
On the issuance of mobile licence, the report indicated that in the pursuit of fair competition, the National Communication Authority (NCA) auctioned a sixth mobile licence on a competitive basis to Globacom Mobile, adding that it was expected that the move would strengthen competition and provide value-added services for the benefit of the ordinary Ghanaian.
Moving the motion, Mr Haruna said in line with the government’s commitment to pursue a policy of registering SIM cards to address security concerns and to help in phone user identification, the ministry assured that all the telephone network operators complied with the directive of de-activating their pre-activated SIM cards/chips on the market by June 30,2010.
He stated that SIM card registration would facilitate the smooth implementation of Mobile Number Portability and reduce criminal activities.
Mr Haruna said the ministry had also responded to public complaints regarding poor quality of telecommunication services, stating that the NCA intensified its monitoring activities and not only instituted appropriate penalties to defaulting operators to serve as deterrent, but also resorted to publishing its evaluation results in the media to name and shame service providers who provided sub-standard service.
On the Digital Broadcasting Migration, the minister said that Ghana’s compliance with the International Technical Standards would be adopted by December 2013, ahead of the international deadline of 2015.
Responding to a suggestion by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Evalue Gwira, Mrs Catherine Ablema Afeku, for the ministry to ensure that the country used e-voting system during the 2012 general elections the minister stated categorically that the country would not be ready for the system in 2012.
He stated that the ministry would, however, assist the Electoral Commission to probably use the e-voting system during the 2016 general election.
Even though there was enough debate on the budget estimate of the Ministry of Communications, a misunderstanding as to whether the finances of the NCA should be brought before the House for scrutiny compelled the Speaker, Mrs Joyce Bamford-Addo, to suspend the approval of the estimates.
While the Minority, led by the MP for Old Tafo, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, thought that there were enough constitutional grounds and provisions in the Standing Orders of the House to warrant parliamentary oversight, the Majority, led by a Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Mr Seth Tekpeh, and the Majority Leader, Mr Cletus Avoka, contended that the House could exercise its oversight responsibility through the operation Of its Public Accounts Committee.
At the time of filing this report, the House was considering the budget estimate of the Ministry of Education.
The ministry is seeking a total of GHC 1,983,217,447 for its operation in 2011.
The sector minister, Mr Alex Tettey-Enyo,moved the motion for the approval of the amount.
He was seconded by the Chairman of the Education Committee of Parliament, Mr Mathias Puozaa, who presented the report of the committee.
Source: Daily Graphic