MOBILE INDUSTRY INTERVENTION TO GHANA’S FIGHT AGAINST COVID-19
The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) wishes to highlight interventions rolled out by its members to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the general public while supporting our collective efforts as a Nation in dealing with the pandemic.
Our vision at the Chamber is to unlock the power on telecommunications, technology and connectivity during these times so that our people, society and the industry can thrive beyond this crisis. Below is a summary of our mobile industry’s interventions categorized and under consumer, government, network resilience and our people that is common to all our members
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• Free access to over 100 educational online sites, e-learning platforms and libraries (public, private, foreign). This industry move supports a total of over 240,000 customers consuming over 3,000 GB (3TB) per day for educational purposes.
• Free calls to the National COVID-19 response number (112) as well as other emergency service numbers.
• In consultation with the Ghana Health Service, our members are leveraging their infrastructure to broadcast emergency communications to educate over 30 million customers on COVID-19, daily safety tips using Ring Back Tones, SMS, Social Media etc.
• Optimization of remote channels such as customer care lines, digital platforms and others to reduce visit to service centres currently operating from 8am-2pm daily excluding weekends. List of operational service centres attached to release.
• Collaborating with the Bank of Ghana to offer free of charge Mobile Money transactions below GH¢100 to promote digital forms of payments and augment social distancing rules which reduce the rate of new infections.
• The industry fraud team is equally working assiduously with Internet experts, content providers and social media platforms to fight COVID-19 related fraud and misinformation on our networks.
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• Fee access to critical websites and Government portals that provide COVID-19 awareness and safety protocols to enable citizens access information for free.
• On-going Collaboration with National Information Technology Authority (NITA) to zero- rate Government of Ghana Smart Workplace Portal to enable government workers work from home.
• Provision of network related data through our regulator to facilitate contact tracing assistance and infection monitoring led by the COVID-19 taskforce and GHS teams.
• Zero-rate calls to the National COVID-19 response number 112.
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• Optimization of our networks and capacity boost to support surge in voice and data usage due to mass behaviour shift to working from home, e-learning, increased streaming, online gaming, virtual meetings and movies and TV viewing online.
• Deployment of additional infrastructure in the ensuing weeks to enhance our charging systems and intelligent networks to cater for increase in volumes for voice and data.
• Following ongoing deliberations with our Regulator for additional network resources to maintain acceptable customer experience, further sites to be rolled out, additional international bandwidth to be expanded as well as fibre redundancy projects to be undertaken across the industry.
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• Health, Safety and Compliance process have been put in place, our staff and partners have been educated on “what to know about COVID-19” as well as protocols implemented to protect them.
• Comprehensive training undertaken to our staff at all offices and branches. We have provided hand washing facilities, sanitizers and protective gear to curtail the spread of any new infections within our premise.
• Introduction of remote working policies for our staff to encourage flexibility and commitment, which allows for service availability and smooth business continuity.
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Other Initiatives by our Members
• Our members are independently rolling out commercial offers such as no disconnection policy for postpaid business/enterprise customers, huge bonuses on airtimes purchased through mobile money platforms, double data allocations on selected bundles, and data offers which do not expire all through these difficult times.
• Some of our members have:
Activated short codes 199, 769 for the Ghana Health Service and 311 for the Ministry of Information to assist with enquiries and complaints from the general public on COVID-19. Other provisioned lines for the Information Ministry to be used for social media services.
o Our members, using their CSR Foundations have pledged and donated in consultation with the Ministry of Health and Ghana Health Service medical supplies worth millions of cedis to complement Government’s efforts in the fight against COVID-19.
Deployed of mobile financial service(MFS) merchant accounts as collection conduit to support Government Institutions like the Ministry of Finance and the First Lady’s Fund mobilization for COVID-19.
o Using data science techniques to leverage the production of rapid mobility estimates using anonymised and aggregated mobile phone data to support Government’s interventions against COVID-19.
o Supplied wireless internet connectivity (routers, network devices, data) to Greater Accra Regional Teleconsultation Centre (TCC) at Ridge Hospital and Information Ministry to facilitate education and psychological support under the Mental Health Authority.
o Supplied over 2,500 SIM cards with over 4TB of data to support the national contract tracing effort.
“Our industry is working meticulously during these difficult times to keep lives saved, emergency and educational services online, together with businesses, families and friends connected,” said Dr. Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO of GCT.
As we assure you of our continued support to the Nation’s combat to the COVID-19 pandemic, we entreat the general public to refer to the zero-rated Ghana Health Service website,
https://ghanahealthservice.org/covid19/, for relevant information in addition to the graphical visualization provided by the Chamber to the Ghana Health Service data on https://www.covidgh.com/# and stay home as well as align with the partial lockdown directive.