COVID-19:Government engaging telcos to reduce cost of data, services – Ken Ofori-Atta.
Government is taking many pragmatic steps to make life relatively
bearable, as far as the fight against the global pandemic, Coronavirus
Aside providing reliefs in the form of absorption of household utility
bills, that is electricity and water, government has taken another step
to reduce the cost of the most used items and services currently.
Addressing Members of Parliament on March 30, 2020, Finance Minister Ken Ofori-Atta
revealed that government is engaging telecommunication companies to
reduce the cost of data and services for households and small-scale
“Mr Speaker, following consultation by the Minister for Finance with key
stakeholders, in discussion with Cabinet and the directives of His
Excellency, the President, the following additional measures are being
pursued to mitigate the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic:
(G) Engaging the Telcos to reduce the cost of data and telecommunication services to households and small businesses,” Ken Ofori-Atta told the House.
Prior to this, there had been several calls from the public as well as
certain stakeholders for telecommunication giants to reduce the cost of
data since a majority of the working population have been forced to work
Other reasons also cited included the adoption of online lectures and examinations by some tertiary institutions in the country.
Former President John Dramani Mahama
also asked the government to reach some agreement with the telecom
companies which would result in the cutting of the cost of internet
during the COVID-19 crisis.
“At this point, the government has not yet addressed the need to
negotiate with the telcos for a reduction in their tariffs to benefit
the millions spending longer hours online and making calls”, he said.
“As I speak, several students and pupils are having lectures and school sessions online because of the Coronavirus disease.
“This has drastically increased their expenditure on internet usage to
the extent that some can no longer cope. Indeed, there have been reports
of several students who are unable to complete online lectures before
their ‘data’ run out. Several people are also working from home.
“Due to these pressing needs, I wish to bring the issue of cost of
internet and voice services back as another priority policy agenda.
“I have already suggested that the government can assure the telcos of a
free six-month extension of licences – some of which are to expire very
soon. This value can be applied to cushion consumers during this
3-month period”, Mr Mahama noted.