Industry News Page | Telecoms Chamber

Ooredoo makes history with 5G launch

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Qatar-based Ooredoo claimed it had become the world’s first operator to deploy a commercial 5G network, representing a “breakthrough” for the industry.

In a statement, the company said it had now launched a live 5G network on the 3.5GHz spectrum band and, in effect, beat rival global operators to the punch.

The first stage of Ooredoo’s 5G Supernet deployment covers an area from The Pearl Qatar island to the Hamad International Airport, with a number of parts of the country also covered as part of the initial commercial launch.

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However, while the company claimed 5G had now launched in the country, it added in its statement that access to the network “will require a 5G compatible device from Ooredoo”, which are yet to launch.

Presumably, until this happens, Ooredoo’s 5G network will not be accessible by consumers.

When it is usable, Ooredoo’s 5G service will offer New Radio capabilities to provide high speed, capacity and better latency compared to “existing cellular systems”, said the company.

Waleed Al Sayed, Ooredoo Qatar CEO, said the operator and country had made history by becoming the “first company in the world to offer access to 5G technology and services”.

The development follows the activation of Ooredoo’s new 5G Commercial Core Network, occurring “days ago”.

Ooredoo said it had been working on 5G deployment since 2016, and tipped the technology to provide the foundations for new innovations including driverless cars and smart roads, a national fleet of service drones and VR/AR deployment.

Deployments of 5G in the US (from AT&T and Verizon) are also expected at the end of this year, and Qualcomm recently said a handful of smartphone vendors were also aiming to launch 5G-ready devices at the end of this year.

Source: Mobile World Live

Ghana Launches Mobile Money Interoperability System.

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The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications together with the Government of Ghana, Central Bank, GhIPSS and commercial banks on Thursday 10th May 2018 launched the mobile money interoperability system at the Marriot hotel in Accra.

The Mobile Money Payment Interoperability is the service, which allows direct and seamless transfer of funds from one mobile money wallet to another mobile money wallet across networks, which was developed by Ghana Interbank Payment and Settlement Systems (GhIPSS) with active collaboration of the Mobile Industry.

It creates convenience for mobile money users to transact business and drives financial inclusion, lowers cost of transaction, increases service reach and reduces reliance on cash for payments. It also provides a financial transaction engine that is versatile, efficient and robust and enhances patronage by both banked and unbanked segment of the population.

Ing. Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO of the Telecoms Chamber in his speech at the event said “our customers would benefit from network effects and from reduced transaction costs. Governments can also be optimistic that interoperability can help advance financial inclusion due to the ubiquitous nature of mobile and reduced transaction costs as well as can also lower the cost of printing and managing cash.

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Vice President Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who launched the system in Accra, acknowledged the contribution and co-operation of the Bank of Ghana (BoG), GhIPSS, the telcos and financial institutions for ensuring the realization of the system.

This is the Phase One of two phases of the interoperability payments system. Under the Phase One, customers will be able to move monies freely from mobile money accounts across different networks and from their mobile money accounts to bank accounts without any hassle.

The second phase, which will be completed in the next two months, will allow the movement of monies between and among telecommunication operators, banks and e-zwitch accounts in a seamless manner –and the flow is vice versa, to complete the Financial Inclusion Triangle.

Vice President Bawumia noted that after 60 years of the country’s independence, about 60 per cent of the population did not have bank accounts, and had no access to payment instruments aside cash for transactions.

This, he said, necessitated low level of savings in the financial system and the reason for the high interest rates on loans in most developing countries like Ghana.

It was against that backdrop, he said, the Government decided to have a platform that would rope in both banked and unbanked segments of the population to improve domestic resource mobilization and reduce the interest rates on loans.

He said the mobile revolution had provided a major opportunity to cover about 70 per cent of the bankable population since there were 37 million connected to mobile phones in Ghana, which would rope-in a majority of the population into the financial space.

He noted that it was the fastest way of formalising the economy and would improve the efficiency of the country’s tax collections efforts and stem capital flight.

Vice President Bawumia said: ‘If done on a comprehensive scale, financial resources locked up in non-financial assets would be brought into the banking system for intermediation and this could be a significant source of resources (representing potentially three-two times what is being currently intermediated in financial system.’’

He described the launch as a historic day for the nation, noting that the singular achievement reinforced President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s belief that with the right conditions and leadership, there was nothing Ghanaians could not achieve as a people.

The Vice President noted that a cash-lite economy would not only bring about efficiency and convenience, but would also save the nation a lot of money that was spent for maintaining the currency notes.

He urged the various public institutions to be ready to accept electronic payments to give meaning to the various efforts at introducing different electronic payment channels.

Vice President Bawumia said the government next step would be to focus on cross-border arena to ensure efficient payment system among the countries in the sub-region to promote intra-African trade.

The event attracted key stakeholders including; Dr Ernest Addison, the Governor of the Bank of Ghana, Dr Maxwell Opoku Afare, First Deputy Governor of the BoG, Mr Achie Hesse, the CEO of GhIPSS, executives of the Ghana Bankers Association, CEOs of financial institutions, CEOs of telecommunication companies and captains of industries.

Source: GNA

Taxing Mobile Money Will Hinder Financial Inclusion

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Imposing any form of tax on mobile money transactions will be a major drawback to the financial inclusion agenda championed by governments, Akinwale Goodluck, Head of sub Saharan Africa at GSMA, the global body that represents the interest of mobile operators worldwide, has said.

“I am very concerned anytime there is any indication that government or anybody wants to take any step that may inhibit the growth of mobile money. When you tax mobile money, you are taxing the people who are probably the most excluded in mainstream financial service.

These are people who have found a financial niche in mobile money and taxing it will raise the cost of such a service. There is a strong likelihood that this will be a disincentive for people to use mobile money and it could reduce mobile money adoption and increase the divide in terms of financial inclusion,” he told the B&FT at the GSMA Mobile 360 Series West Africa which came off in Abidjan last week.The idea of taxing mobile money transactions was suggested by the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful, during her vetting by the Parliament’s Appointments Committee in February 2017.

She told the Committee that it may not be a bad option as it will generate revenue for government; though she said government was yet to consider the decision.

Later in the year, the minority in Parliament cautioned the government about the introduction of a tax on mobile money.

Even though the government refuted the claims, industry watchers are wary that the issue is still on government’s mind as it seeks avenues to bridge the budget deficit of about 6.3percent of GDP.

Ghana’s mobile money space has seen consistent growth since it began almost a decade ago. In 2017, the total value of transactions stood at GH¢156billion–representing a 98.5 percent increase from the 2016 value of GH¢78.5billion.

With almost a billion transactions in volume, representing a 78.4 percent rise from 550 million in 2016, the total balance on float has increased by 84.6 percent from GH¢1.3billion in 2016 to GH¢2.3billion in 2017.

With mobile money transactions rising rapidly, government sees it as an easy platform to tax and collect revenue. But Mr. Goodluck sees it as “punitive” and “counterproductive” to the plan to deepen financial inclusion.

“Mobile money is an enabler. It helps financial and social inclusivity. It would be particularly burdensome for anybody to impose a tax on mobile money transactions. The ability of mobile money to impact lives and make a paradigm shift in the way we live in sub-Saharan Africa and in Ghana is unimaginable,” he said.

He instead urged government to take steps to increase the volume and value of mobile money transactions because increasing the depth of mobile money draws millions into the financial ecosystem which broadens the tax base for government.

He believes that government needs to look at the advantage of using mobile money instead of cash.

“Do the traditional means of banking have the same levels of penetration? No. This should be about encouraging the alternative channels, rather than punishing these channels.

Government should continue to look at the mobile system as an enabler and see how to develop the digital economy and use it to create jobs and opportunities. These are the things that should be the focus of attention for governments. Then we can create jobs and happiness for the people,” he said.

Source: www.thebftonline.com