Wednesday, February 14, 2007

ICT Makes the Difference in the Akatsi Community



ICT Makes the Difference in the Akatsi Community

Public Agenda (Accra)
January 29, 2007
Posted to the web January 29, 2007

By Isabella Gyau Orhin and Ama Achiaa Amankwaah

The use of telecommunication in Akatsi, a community in the Akatsi district south of the Volta Region has improved tremendously over the past six years.

According to a German researcher Mr. Marcus Koll who did a study in the area, mobile phones are now a common household tool in Akatsi.

The study has therefore called for a rural perspective in national Information Communication Technology development strategies.

The theme of the research by Mr. Koll a Ph.D. Student, from the University of Bonn, Germany was "The use of telephony in the Akatsi District Today."

It was a follow up to a study done in 1999 in Akatsi by another German Researcher Dr. Romeo Bertolini, with The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development in Germany.

In 1999 when the first study was undertaken, technology usage in communication was low and comprised of mainly communication centres with the famous one being Westphalia Communication centre.

Today Westphalia has been turned into a bar and a shop where one can buy clothing and have a beer.

The 1999, study showed that about 52 percent of the inhabitants of Akatsi did not use any form of modern technology in communication but today only 12 percent of respondents say they do not communicate via modern technology.

Mobile phone usage is about 85 percent in Akatsi, a Population of 93,483 inhabitants according to 2002 figures. It covers an area of 1000 square kilometers with about 75 percent of the population of the district engaged in agriculture.

Mr. Koll said there are about 20 public telephone booths available in Akatsi Town now outpacing communication centres which were in vogue during the first study.

More than nine percent of the households reported that they have their own landline installed in their homes making them less dependent on communication centres.

Mr. Koll said there are three mobile phone service providers consisting of Areeba, One-Touch and Tigo. Areeba has 75 percent of the clientele followed by One touch with 20 percent while Tigo has five percent of the clientele in Akatsi. Mr. Koll said none of the 362 households sampled in Akatsi-Town, Agbedrafor and Gefia said they use Kasapa.

There is one internet Café in Akatsi Town according to the study, the next closest cafes are in Aflao and Sogakope. The Akatsi café has five computers in use with one dial-up connection.

The proprietor complained that one-third of the time, he is out of business in th past 12 months, due to power cuts, slow dial-up connection and line failures among others.

The study discovered that the main obstacle to internet use in the area is lack of computer skills. Also around 40 percent of the users complained that internet usage in the town is expensive. Users pay 12, 000 cedis per hour of browsing compared to between 6,000 and 8,000 cedis in Accra.

Only 16 percent of respondents said they do not experience any problems with the use of their phones. According to the study the introduction of retail telephony popularly known as "Space to Space" has made telephone services available on a broader scale. "Even if problems are reported, all in all, the quality of services increased," Koll said.

Dr. Amos Anyimadu of the Technology Assessment Project said the problems of inequity in phone usage sometimes stem from lack of electricity to charge mobile phone batteries in certain remote parts of the country.

He said there are technologies in other countries where battery charging does not require electricity but such technologies are not yet in the country.

The Marketing Manager for Kasapa Mr. Clement Asante said the study has brought to the fore that there many areas in Ghana that should be reached with affordable communication services.

"In spite of the fact that a lot of people have cell phones today, they cannot make phone calls as often as they should," he said adding, "This is a challenge Kasapa is ready to meet."


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