Govt to introduce coding in Basic Schools

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Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (Communications Minister)

The Ministry of Communications is in collaboration with the Ministry of Education to review the curriculum of schools to institutionalize coding programming as a subject to be taught in all Junior High Schools in the country.

This is to enable children of school going age to be abreast of the development of software applications to boost the country’s Information Communication Technology (ICT) drive.
The Ministry says it is also ready to install a switch for internet exchange point in Kumasi Metropolis, the second in the country, by the close of May 2018 to facilitate the exchange of local internet traffic and to reduce cost of bandwidths and data prices.

Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful disclosed these at this year’s “International Girls in ICT Day” on Friday, under the theme, “Expand Horizons, Change Attitudes”. The day has been set aside to create a global environment that empowers and encourages girls and young women to consider careers in the growing field of ICT.
About 600 Junior High Schools students selected from various districts in the Ashanti Region, who have been trained in ICT programmes, were present at the Great Hall of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to celebrate the day.

The celebration of the day was capped with awards, under the auspices of International Communication Union (ITU), for the best 10 performing students with Nora Akoto Tamakloe from Santa Maria School in the Atwima Kwanwoma District emerging as the overall best, as she took home a laptop computer, hard drive, power bank, modem and a certificate.
She was followed by Millicent Afrakomaa of Saint John’s School in the Bekwai Municipality while Elizabeth Quaicoo of Asokore Mampong Junior High School placed third. Both of them walked home with certificates, laptop computers and modems.

Among the best 10 was also a student from the Garden City Special School in Kumasi, Atta Ama Macleana, who took home a laptop computer and other accessories.
According to the Communications Minister, government would soon establish computer laboratories in the schools of the three best students for the benefit of all and sundry within the area but cautioned the children against cyber crime.

Mrs. Frema Osei-Opare, Chief of Staff on her part said the government would do all possible to change the face of ICT in Ghana for girls in particular to have access to skills training. She also reiterated government’s interest in girls’ skills training to fill the ICT gaps by encouraging the Ministry of Communications to establish more ICT clubs in the country.

Deputy Secretary General of ITU, Mr. Malcolm Johnson commended the government for the free Senior High School initiative and said his outfit would continue to collaborate with Ghana to make sure young girls choose careers in ICT.

Source: Ghanaian Times

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