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Tech: 6 ways mobile phones have changed lives in Ghana

Pulse 2017-12-07 12:09:40

Mobile phones have become an essential part of our everyday life.

Travelling back to history, there used to be a limited number of phone lines in Ghana, mostly landlines run by the state-owned telecoms.

Today state owned telecoms are virtually absent with private operators rubbing in to control the sector.

At the end of March 2017, the total subscriptions of mobile data in the country was 21,419,477 with a penetration rate of 75.78%.

Across the rest of the continent the trends are similar: between 2000 and 2010, Kenyan mobile phone firm Safaricom saw its subscriber base increase in excess of 500-fold. In 2010 alone the number of mobile phone users in Rwanda grew by 50%, figures from the country's regulatory agency show.

During the early years of mobile in Africa, the Short Messaging Service (SMS) was at the heart of the revolution. Today the next frontier for mobile use in Africa is the internet.

Below are seven ways that mobile phones have transformed the contry.

BANKING

 

Mobile money transfer service operated by several networks in Ghana has eased payment systems in Ghana. In 2016 there were 16.6 million mobile money customers

The total value of mobile money transactions by users of the service at the end of September this year reached GH¢109 billion cedis. This represents a 112 percent growth over the GH¢51.4 billion cedis recorded from January to September in 2016.

Many Ghanaians now use mobile money to pay their bills and airtime, buy goods and make payments to individuals, remittances from relatives living abroad are also largely done via mobile banking.

 

HEALTH

 

A simple text-messaging solution was all 28-year-old Ghanaian doctoral student, Bright Simons needed for his innovative plan to tackle counterfeit medicine in African countries. The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 30% of drugs supplied in developing countries are fake. In 2009, nearly 100 Nigerian babies died after they were given teething medicine that contained a solvent usually found in antifreeze.

Simons' pioneering idea was to put unique codes within scratch cards on medicine packaging that buyers can send via SMS to a designated number to find out if the drug is genuine or not.

The system is now being used by several countries in Africa and rolled out to places such as Asia where there are similar problems with counterfeit drugs.

 

ENTERTAINMENT

 

A 2009 survey found that "entertainment and information" were the most popular activities for which mobile phones are used in Ghana, in particular for dialing into favorite radio shows, voting in reality shows, downloading and sharing songs, photos and videos, as well as tweeting.

However companies are creating mobile-only platforms targeted for this market. Ghana now teems with online platforms which bills itself as "African movies in your pocket."

 

DISASTER MANAGEMENT

 

Mobiles have been finding innovative uses in our various fields. Sometimes when tragedy strikes, people are able to connect to others an inform them of take caution.

Elsewhere, there are similar positivities. South Africa's 2008 xenophobic attacks inspired the launch of SMS emergency reporting and relief systems.

 

ACTIVISM

 

The ever popular Dumsor Must Stop in Ghana was started on the internet with people behind their phones tweeting to join the activism.

Across the continent mobile phones are also bringing unprecedented levels of openness and transparency to the electoral process, empowering citizens from Cairo to Khartoum to Dakar to Lagos.

 

EMPLOYMENT

This is one of the most obvious impact mobile phones is having in Ghana. There are prepaid card sellers all over the place and many Ghanaians have been employed by mobile telecommunication companies