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Ghana has adopted a national science and technology education policy, the Minister of Environment, Science and Technology, Sherry Ayittey, has disclosed.
The policy will complement an earlier ICT policy-ICT for Accelerated Development (ICT4ad), which sets out the roadmap for the development of Ghana’s information society by providing a basis to facilitate the socio-economic development of the country in the emerging information age.
Explaining the new science and technology education policy, the Minister stated, “This is driven by the realization that science, technology and innovation are critical for economic growth and productivity and the government has consequently introduced various education reforms and training programmes to achieve the desire goals.
Ms Ayittey was addressing a workshop on the Skill Development Fund (SDF) at Dodowa recently.
Ms Ayittey pointed out that Ghana’s educational and training institutions were not producing enough skilled manpower to meet the market demands “hence government’s desire to improve technological training to benefit small-scale industries.”
“There is a shortage of skilled scientists and engineers, and this has become a major barrier to improving the country’s technological performance, “she lamented.
To give effect to the policy, the Ministry of Environment, Science and Technology is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to improve the science and engineering contents of school curriculum in Ghana.
By Raphael Adeniran
Elections regulator, the Electoral Commission (EC), has launched an SMS platform where registered voters can verify their details in the biometric voters register.
According to the EC, the platform is designed to consolidate efforts at making Election 2012 credible, transparent, free and fair.
The SMS platform will run concurrently with the physical exercise currently being conducted across all the 22,000 polling stations across the country.
The validation exercise will be valid during the voter validation period scheduled for September 1, to September 10, 2012, indicates the EC.
According to the EC, all those who registered during the recent biometric registration can check their details through the specially designed mobile platform by sending one’s name, ID number and polling station to a designated short code.
The10-day exercise will afford over 13 million eligible Ghanaians the opportunity to ascertain whether their details had been captured properly.
The exhibition exercise is the final stage of cleaning the register by removing the names of people who might have passed on; names of minors and non-Ghanaians, if proof is provided.
By Raphael Adeniran
Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, has stated that the first half of 2012 witnessed close to 500 fibre cable cuts across the country.
He said it costs GH¢17,000 on the average to repair the damaged cables.
The fiber optic cables are used by many telecommunications companies to transmit telephone signals, internet communication and cable television signals.
A break in the cables, which is mainly caused by road construction works, causes distraction in network connectivity.
He noted that the development was greatly affecting the business of telecom operators, as well as their subscribers.
Mr. Sakyi-Addo, who stated this in an interview with BUSINESS GUIDE after the Chambers Second Knowledge Forum on fibre cuts in Accra, indicated that apart from the high cost of repair, there is also reputational damage to the operator because of the subscriber’s inability to access the network.
He said “indeed fibre cut is not just about how it affects the industry, but the inconvenience that subscribers go through when they are unable to access the network.”
The forum, which was on the theme, ‘Cable cuts: How they hurt subscribers and the Telecoms Industry,’ attracted stakeholders in the telecom sector, the Ghana Highway Authority (GHA) and other road funding agencies.
Mr. Sakyi-Addo noted that the forum highlighted challenges of the industry and also enabled subscribers to understand that “those days when several hours calls and text messages do not go through they will understand that there has to be a decent reason for that to happen.
Moreover, it was also to make clear the fact that it is not in the interest of any network operator to deny its subscribers access to its network.”
He appealed to telecom companies to ensure that they properly mark areas where cables are located for easy identification by road constructors and other pedestrians.
He added that “the Chamber and telcos are working with the road agencies to collaborate with them in coming out with appropriate suggestions to relocate some of the cables in the event of a new road construction or rehabilitation.”
He noted that to further address the problem, operators must collaborate to share trenches so that multiple cables would be laid in the same trench.
There were presentations from Larry Arthur, Acting Chief Technical Officer, Tigo Ghana and Musah Yayah, a representative from GHA, who stressed the need for consumers to play the watchdog role in ensuring that fibre cables are protected from thieves who sometimes cut the cable to sell.
By Esther Awuah
WORLD’S TECHNOLOGY giant, Microsoft and rlg Communications, Africa’s leading indigenous Information Communication Technology (ICT) assembling company, have stated their intentions to collaborate and fight activities of fake computer manufacturers.
The Country Manager of Microsoft Anglophone West Africa, Emmanuel Onyeje, said the issue of criminals using fake computers to commit nefarious crimes both locally and globally, should not be taken for granted.
He said, “If you go out there and you buy a fake computer without genuine parts you are harming yourself and opening yourself to security issues.”
“Therefore collaborating with rlg allows us to together provide Ghana’s with genuine software hence protecting people from the harmful effects of fake products.”
Mr. Onyeje disclosed this in Accra when Microsoft and rlg signed a partnership agreement with the world’s largest software and computer programmer.
The partnership, which would allow rlg laptops and computers to leverage the huge global market held by Microsoft, would also offer value to the Ghanaian market and make the Microsoft windows more affordable.
Though both rlg and Microsoft were silent on the actual figures, the deal was said to be worth millions of dollars.
Mr. Onyeje emphasized that the partnership would provide the country with genuine software parts and help protect intellectual rights, adding that Microsoft would soon launch window 8 globally.
He expressed gratitude to the management of rlg for the partnership and expressed the hope that it would offer opportunities for the country’s market share to grow.
The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of rlg, Roland Agambire, expressed delight at the deal, which he said would go a long way to enable rlg continue its leadership role in the ICT sector.
He indicated that the partnership would increase Microsoft’s market share in the West African Sub-region, as rlg distributed computers using Microsoft’s software.
He said rlg quality assurance would increase because of its partnership with Microsoft and that the company would soon commence work on a multi-million dollar ICT assembling plant, which would employ about 30,000 youth.
Mr. Agambire announced that most of rlg’s MGS1 laptops would come with in-built modems requiring only SIM card to browse.
By Esther Awuah
Ghana’s electronic payment system, e-zwich has seen about 500 per cent growth in patronage of some of the services in six months to June, this year, data from Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) has shown.
Data from GhIPSS indicate that e-zwich transactions increased for most services by over 50 per cent on the average between January and March this year, the usage shot up by huge margins between March and June.
According to the figures, the value of sales transactions involving e-zwich went up from over GH¢400,000 in January to GH¢4.5 million by June.
The increase in value of transactions over the six months also corresponded with the volume, which rose from over 700 transactions in January to over 7,200 by June.
Similar trends were recorded for cash deposits and withdrawals on e-zwich, as well as card to card transfers over the six months period.
The use of e-zwich for payment of salaries and other forms of emolument known as the Payment Distribution System (PDS) jumped to almost 14 million Ghana cedis by June from 1.1 million Ghana cedis.
Archie Hesse, GhIPSS Business Development Manager, said there was a steady growth in the use of e-zwich, adding that the number of companies using the electronic payment systems for bulk payments was increasing while individuals were doing a lot of internal funds transfers with e-zwich.
Mr. Hesse said the use of cards for payment for goods and services remained a challenge, adding that soon all traditional Automated Teller Machine (ATM) cards could be used in Point of Sales (POS) devices to pay for items at the shops in addition to the e-zwich cards.
He said this would increase the number of cards that could be used for payment while more POSs will be deployed at several outlets to make the electronic payment readily available.
Another long-term approach is to introduce the use of the payment cards to students from the Senior High School through the tertiary to National Service period to inculcate the habit of using card instead of cash to make payments.
“Young people are more likely to apply technology and so we are introducing this to them and we anticipate that they would grow with the culture,” Mr. Hesse explained.
The Ghanaian economy is dominated by cash transactions to the extent that people with Visa and MasterCard, will still bypass shops to go to the ATMs to withdraw cash with the cards and return to the shop to buy when they could have paid for the items directly using their Visa or MasterCard.
Developed by London-based online gambling operator Gamesys, the Bingo Friendzy app allows users aged 18 and over to play games for cash prizes.
Facebook said only its UK members would be able to view the app.
The website’s largest gaming partner, Zynga, said it also planned to introduce real-money gambling versions of its games next year.
A Facebook spokeswoman stressed Bingo Friendzy was not a joint venture, saying the game had been developed entirely by Gamesys.
“Real money gaming is a popular and well-regulated activity in the UK, and we are allowing a partner to offer their games to adult users on the Facebook platform in a safe and controlled manner,” she told the BBC.
Facebook intends to use age-gating technology to ensure under-18s and “vulnerable people” are unable to access the app.
The social network typically takes a 30% cut of transactions on its network, but would not confirm if that was the case with this title, saying it was “commercially sensitive information”.
Gamesys, one of the largest UK online gambling companies, operates the Sun Bingo and Heart Bingo, as well as the UK’s leading bingo-and-slots website Jackpotjoy.com.
In its press release, the company said users would have access to self-help tools to reduce the risk of gambling addiction, including the ability to set spending limits.
Facebook said the decision to launch a real-cash gambling app in the UK had been motivated by “a mature and very well-regulated gambling market”.
Gamesys’ gambling activities are licensed and regulated by the government of Gibraltar, allowing it to offer titles in the UK.
In the United States the situation with real-money online gambling is more complicated – the law currently forbids banks and others offering payment processing services to betting services targeted at US citizens.
MTN Group, in a statement released last week, said its 2012 first-half revenues rose 17.5% to reach 66.4 billion rand ($8.1 billion).
According to the telecom giant, the growth was mainly driven by its Ghanaian and Iranian operations. Ghana recorded a revenue growth of 19.9% while Iran recorded 29.9%
The other growth catalyst for MTN is South Africa, which grew by 9.5 percent.
“Group revenue increased by a healthy 17.5% to 66, 426 million rand due to solid growth in South Africa, Iran and Ghana of 9.5%, 29.9% and 19.9% respectively,” stated the telecom company.
On a constant currency basis, MTN’s revenue grew 12.5% as local currency revenue in Iran and Ghana increased 28.3% and 22.4% respectively while Nigeria’s local currency revenue grew 4.4%.
The results showed that MTN Ghana delivered a strong performance with subscribers increasing by 5.9% to 10.76 million despite aggressive competition.
“This performance was largely due to attractive segmented promotions across the product portfolio and a well-managed pricing strategy. A stronger economy also assisted growth,” the Group stated.
However, MTN Ghana’s market share declined to 51% during the half year and this was “as a result of the entry of a new mobile player into the market”.
Total cedi revenue increased by 22.4% and this the results indicated was mainly driven by an 18.8% increase in airtime and subscription revenue, which benefited from promotions driving usage and spend. Data revenue grew by 193%, albeit off a low base, due to handset and data promotions.
MTN Ghana’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin dipped slightly from 38.7% at June 30, 2011 to 37.7% due to increased rent and utilities from the leasing of the 400 towers previously sold.
One of the leading mobile phone distributors in Ghana, TECNO Ghana has launched its 35th model phone onto the market with a promise to sign on famous Black Stars striker Asamoah Gyan as TECNO Africa brand icon.
The Market Manager of Tecno Ghana, Kwabena Boakye Asante disclosed this at the launch of the new Tecno T8 handset recently where Asamoah Gyan and his brother Baffuor Gyan were special guests.
He said TECNO believes with the clout Asamoah Gyan has across the continent and around the world, he would be a great brand ambassador for TECNO Africa.
Mr. Asante said TECNO currently controls over 50 per cent market share in Ghana’s mobile phone distribution industry, stressing that the newly launched Tecno T8 is expected to boost its market share.
“The new phone is touch screen, dual-SIM and has Wifi, a four gigabyte memory, an inbuilt modem and offers high speed internet but goes for a maximum of only GH¢ 200,” he said.
Mr. Asante said T8 is a convenient alternative for a laptop or computer because even though it was handy its screen is big enough to enable the user to check and reply emails and work online whilst on the move.
Mr. Asante said the battery of T8 could take for three days before running out of power when the phone is on regular use.
He said TECNO has other very unique brands, some of which takes three and four active SIM cards at the same time with batteries that could last for two weeks.
The phones also have inbuilt high definition cameras that could take sharp pictures from a long distance.
“We have phones that journalists can use for voice recording for 24 hours without losing battery power or running out of memory,” he said.
Mr. Asante said third party research showed that TECNO has over 50 per cent market share in the mobile phone distribution market in Ghana, adding that “we expect our new T8 phone to take 30 per cent of our market share in no time.”
He said so far TECNO is providing about 20,000 direct and indirect jobs across the country, adding that there are plans to establish strong presence in all the regional capitals and some districts and municipal capitals in the country beginning next month.
“We have VIP shops in Accra and Kumasi and we are in the process of opening similar shops in Takoradi, Cape Coast and Tamale in the next month or so,” he said.
Mr. Asante noted that TECNO offers affordable phones, all of which come with 13 months warranty.
From Business Desk
Google has unveiled the first laptops that will run on its Chrome operating system.
The machines, made by Acer and Samsung, will go on sale next month.
Unlike conventional computer systems which use installed software like Microsoft Word, Chrome is built around web-based applications such as Google Docs.
Some analysts have questioned whether users will want laptops that rely so heavily on an internet connection.
However, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, hailed the technology as a “new model of computing”.
His comments came on the second day of the company’s developer conference, where Google announced that so-called Chromebooks will go on sale in June.
Samsung and Acer will be the first manufacturers to offer the devices, for between $349 and $499, in the US and six European countries initially.
Google’s aim is to encourage people to use web-based applications, claiming that that is where most people spend their time and that most tasks can be accomplished online.
The internet giant said because Chromebooks are not weighed down by software and applications common to most laptops, they boot up in eight seconds instead of minutes.
The company said battery life on the device will last a day, security updates will be done automatically and they will be faster than traditional laptops.
“It’s a much easier way to compute… and Chromebook is venturing into a new model of computing that I don’t think was possible even a few years ago,” said Mr Brin.
“Ultimately the most precious resource is the user’s time. I think the complexity of managing your computer is really torturing users out there. It is a flawed model and I think Chromebooks are a new model and this is the way things are going to be,” added Mr Brin.
The first service that allows users to pay for purchases via their mobile phone has been launched in the UK.
Among shops signed up to the system are McDonalds, EAT, Pret-a-Manger and some Boots stores.
Users wishing to use the system – dubbed Quick Tap – will need Orange and Barclaycard accounts as well as a handset set up for contactless payments.
The idea of the mobile wallet is gaining popularity around Europe.
The service is made possible by Near Field Communication (NFC), the short-range wireless technology that underpins many wireless payment systems.
Quick Tap is a collaboration between Orange and Barclaycard. It will require a NFC-enabled Samsung Tocco Lite handset, which also goes on sale on Friday.
Only purchases up to a value of £15 can be made using the service but users can preload their mobile with up to £100.
“Having a wallet on my phone has made it much more convenient to make purchases on the move and I like that it allows me to keep track of what I’m spending as I go,” said David Chan, chief executive of Barclaycard Consumer.
“It is going to start a revolution in the way we pay for things on the high street,” added Pippa Dunn, vice president of Orange.
Other stores signed up the service include Subway, Little Chef, Wilkinson and the National Trust.
Later this summer, users will also be able to use the service to pay the toll on the M6 motorway.