Accra, 2 April 2020: The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) has issued these recommendations for the fair, responsible and rational use of telecommunications networks and the internet, during this period of the coronavirus crisis.
Accra, 20 March 2020: The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications (GCT) has expressed willingness of its members to support the Government of Ghana and other key stakeholders in the nation’s quest to combat the outbreak of the novel corona virus (COVID-19)
The COVID-19 global pandemic, which has been recorded in Ghana, continues to spread and disrupt everyday life. It is imperative that Ghanaians stay connected, and as an industry, we reiterate our readiness to support government, businesses and our customers in leveraging on the power of telecommunications for the greater good of our society.
To this end, we have proactively engineered and enabled a number of activities aimed at complementing Ghana’s efforts to fight the corona virus. • Institutional partnerships with the Ministries of Communications, National Communications Authority, Ghana Health Service, Bureau of National Communications, National Security to broadcast emergency communications using our network infrastructure to educate the general public • Working with the above-mentioned institutions to route all calls to the Covid-19 emergency numbers at no cost to the public. • Collaborating with the Bank of Ghana to implement free mobile financial services transactions within certain bands to promote digital forms of payments and augment social distancing which will reduce the rate of new infection. • We continue to give a lot of education to our staff at all of our offices and branches. We have provided hand washing facilities, sanitizers and protective gear for our staff among other initiatives in a bit to curtail any spread of new infections. • We have put in place plans for our staff to work from home to guarantee service availability at all times to facilitate seamless service provision to everyone • Zero-rating critical websites that provide Covid-19 awareness and safety protocols. • Offering further packages for identified educational, and related websites as well as other critical Government of Ghana portals that offer essential services to citizens • The industry fraud team is equally working assiduously to fight coronavirus-related fraud and misinformation on our networks.
“As an industry we wish to assure the general public that one of our primary priorities is to ensure the provision of service availability and the resilience of our networks and services as we begin to experience increasing demand for voice, data and mobile financial services.” said Ing. Dr. Kenneth Ashigbey, CEO of GCT.
Kenneth added, “We are working closely with our Regulators and sector Ministry to ensure the adequate controls are in place to guarantee service availability, which can support customer experience for the larger population during these times.”
Finally, the Chamber entreats the general public to refer to the Ghana Health Service website for relevant information and updates, maintain social distancing, practice respiratory hygiene and wash hands regularly.
Yasmin Buari, a third-year student at the University of Ghana Medical School, has praised Vodafone for giving her financial and technical support throughout her senior high school (SHS) education.
Yasmin is one of the beneficiaries of a three-year scholarship programme, which was introduced by the Vodafone Ghana Foundation to help increase the pool of females in the science, technology and engineering industry.
The scheme sponsored the education of 300 brilliant female students in over 80 senior high schools across the country between 2014 and 2019.
Sharing her experience, Yasmin said “Vodafone’s scholarship programme helped my parents and I a lot when I was in the senior high school. I attended various science camps and mentoring programmes where we were given hands-on training in coding and robotics, as part of the scholarship. We were told to uphold higher academic standards, which also helped in my admission into medical school. I would like to thank Vodafone and British Council for that wonderful initiative.”
Commenting on the initiative, Gayheart Mensah, Director of External Affairs at Vodafone said “We are excited that our scholarship programme provided the foundation that has empowered 300 females who are pursuing careers in the medical, engineering and other related disciplines. We believe that females can play a significant role in addressing the technology and engineering challenges in the country, and this is one of the initiatives we introduced to help decrease the high attrition rate of women in this area.”
Vodafone’s scholarship programme was introduced in 2014, in partnership with the British Council, to help bridge the gender gap in Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) by increasing females’ involvement in these subjects in Ghana.
The package, catered for the tuition fees, learning materials and educational expenses of the beneficiaries for their three-year secondary education.
Monies in dormant mobile money accounts and accounts of deceased customers will remain accessible to their owners and families without any restrictions, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Mr Kenneth Ashigbey, has said. Mr Ashigbey explained that electronic money issuance was backed by cash which were kept at universal banks to provide some form of guarantee for deposited funds and help ensure that monies kept in electronic wallets were safe. “This makes it impossible for anybody’s money to be abused at all’, he said.
Mr Ashigbey was reacting to rumors suggesting that mobile money service providers were withholding monies in dormant accounts and monies belonging to deceased customers, according to a statement issued by the Chamber on Tuesday.
He said the Payment Systems and Services Act clearly stated how dormant accounts should be treated and that made it unlawful for service providers to go contrary to it.
“According to Article 33 (4) of the Act, electronic money issuers are required to treat MoMo accounts which have not registered a transaction for 12 consecutive months as dormant accounts and the operators would remind customer on the 11th month through an SMS so if there is no transaction in the 12th month, the account would be suspended and the account blocked but the balance of the dormant account is transferred along with identifying information to a separate account with any bank designated by the Bank of Ghana for a period not exceeding three years,” Mr Ashigbey said.
He explained that after the three years period, if the holder of the account or the executors of the deceased person did not make a claim, the service provider shall transfer all the funds to the Bank of Ghana or an institution designated by the Bank of Ghana and retain all identifying information.
Next of kin entitlement
In that same breath, Mr Ashigbey explained that at the registration stage of opening a mobile money account, a provision was made for customers to identify their next of kin for future purposes.
“At the registration of mobile money, one of the know your customer (KYC) that our providers ask for is your next of kin. This is required by all of our members and even so, allow those who have not provided their next of kin to update their detail. During the on-board system, you are required to provide the name and contact number of your next of kin. And that is constantly being taken.
“Additionally, next of kin is not static and clients can update them as often as they desire to change who their next of kin is,” he said.
He further explained that when a customer died and the family sought to make claims, they were required to provide proof of death which is a death certificate, and that the family member must prove to be the rightful executor of the estate of the deceased.
“So, you would have to provide a copy of the will of the deceased. However, if the person died without a will, that is, died intestate, you have to provide letters of administration from the court and provide an ID of the executors of the estate of the deceased.
“It is based on this that the MoMo operators, after they have established the death of the clients, and the fact that you are the rightful executor of the estate, will make available the balance on the account for distribution to the rightful beneficiaries of the estate,” he said.
He explained that the process was no different from that of other financial institutions who also required by law similar processes to make claims on the funds of deceased family members.
“It is not a different process from what pertains for any financial services. In as much as we want to ensure that genuine beneficiaries of estates have access to the funds of their benefactors when the unfortunate incident of a death occurs, we also as law abiding organisations will want to prevent fraudulent access to our customers funds.” Mr Ashigbey said.