Celebrating Women in Ghana's Telecom & ICT Industry

This International Women’s Day, we want to celebrate the new faces of telecommunications’ players in Ghana – they are SMART, they are EXPERIENCED, and they are FIERCE. Above all THEY ARE WOMEN making waves in this traditionally male-dominated sector.

A couple weeks ago, I had the honor of attending a historic event organized by the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications to welcome the new Minister for Communications and the new Director General of the National Communications Authority (NCA). I have always been impressed by the many successful ‘firsts’ (albeit remaining challenges) chalked by Ghana’s telecom sector – one of the first in Africa to liberalize and introduce competition, connect to the internet, launch the 1st cellular mobile network in Sub-Saharan Africa etc. But at that moment it dawned on me that in addition to Ghana appointing its first female Communications Minister, 3 out of the 4 CEOs of the largest Mobile Operators in Ghana are Women! Even more, the Heads of Google Ghana, and Internet Solutions, one of the leading Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country, are also Women!

Ghana has certainly come a long way – and perhaps has added another ‘first’ to its credentials of a nearly all female team that is driving the next generation of transformation in the telecom and IT sector- the strong technical and legal teams behind them are also women! I remember distinct periods in the mid-90s when despite my role as Coordinator of the government’s telecom reform initiative, I was consistently asked if I would take the notes or bring in the coffee at almost every meeting. Back then I was among a sprinkling of women professionals in the sector. Before the push to liberalize the telecommunications sector, access to any form of telecommunications service was limited to the rich and elite. In fact, there were fewer cell phones in all of Africa combined than there were in Manhattan alone – with mobile penetration estimated at around 0.2%!

Today I stand proud that that value has increased by a factor of 500-fold in Ghana alone. Ghana’s mobile penetration rate today is now well over 100%, and these women (and men) are making enormous efforts to make access to both mobile and Internet more inclusive. I am honored to have been part of this incredible community of women who have pushed to close connectivity gaps in Africa, and are changing the world through technology.

Here is how these 6 amazing women are blazing the trail and demonstrating to our younger women that when you are persistently bold, you can force change:

Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

Honorable Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ghana’s New Minister for Communications is no stranger to the telecom sector. Her rich professional background includes positions as Managing Director of WESTEL formerly Ghana’s national fixed line operator (now Airtel), and Director of Vodafone Ghana Company Limited Ghana’s second largest telecommunications service provider by number of subscribers. She is a women’s rights activist and a parliamentarian representing the Ablekuma West Constituency. Ms. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful served as Managing Consultant with N. U. Consult – which provides legal, governance and gender consulting services. She is a member of various organizations including the Ghana Bar Association, the International Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), the Women in Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF), and the African Women Lawyers Association (AWLA). Ms. Owusu-Ekuful is a Barrister/Solicitor by profession and holds an LLB from the University of Ghana and a Masters in Conflict Peace and Security from the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Center where she was adjudged the overall best student in 2015.

CEO of Airtel Ghana, Lucy Quist

Lucy Quist CEO of AirtelSince taking over the helm of affairs at Airtel Ghana in 2014, as the first Ghanaian woman to lead a multinational telecom company, Lucy has successfully repositioned the company into the fastest growing telecom brand, growing customer market share for both voice and data. She has a clear strategic focus on driving data and digital services as the communication platform of the future and was recently featured on BBC’s Power Women series as one of the top business women driving transformational change in Africa. Lucy is an international business leader and a technology professional who advocates for greater participation of young people in STEM for development. She personally leads #EvolveWithSTEM, Airtel Ghana’s initiative to encourage young people to participate in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Alongside her outstanding commercial achievements, she has also led Airtel Ghana to win more than 20 prestigious awards. Lucy studied at the University of East London, graduating with a first-class honors degree in Electrical and Electronic Engineering. She also holds an MBA from INSEAD in France. Lucy has been recognized over the years for her transformational and inspirational leadership, her exceptional strategic marketing insights, selfless dedication to growing people and her unrelenting championing of causes that are shaping the lives of young people. Notable among these are – CIMG Marketing Woman of the year (2014), Telecom CEO of the Year (Ghana ICT and Telecoms Award 2016) and CSR CEO of the year (Ghana CSR Excellence Awards 2016).

Roshi Motman CEO of Tigo

Roshi Motman CEO of Tigo joined the company in April 2014, after almost ten years with various companies within the Kinnevik Group, a key investor in Millicom, one of the leading telecommunications powerhouses across Sub-Saharan Africa. In Tele2, a Swedish-based telecom company, she progressed in a variety of management roles including, product development and management, sales and customer operations. Prior to that, she was responsible for the development of mobile entertainment at Modern Times Group (MTG), the parent company of the Viasat Television Network. She studied Electrical Engineering and Business Development at Chalmers University in Göteborg, Sweden and has an outstanding record of developing people and businesses. Under her leadership, Tigo Ghana has seen remarkable operational and financial transformation – aggressive network expansion, massive service delivery improvements, increased subscriber growth, improved profitability and a refreshed brand. She has also championed several livelihood empowerment programmes through Tigo’s Corporate Social Responsibility wing. Her outstanding leadership has been recognized on various prestigious platforms including recognition as the CEO of the Year at the 2015 Africacom Awards in Cape Town.

Yolanda Zoleka Cuba

Yolanda Zoleka Cuba is a transformational and accomplished business leader, who is highly regarded across the African continent. Her career extends over several reputable industries including general industrials and resources, telecommunications and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). She is an accomplished professional in Corporate Finance and Strategy. Yolanda joined Vodafone Ghana as Chief Executive Officer in June 2016 from Vodacom Group in South Africa, where she was the Director of Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions across five markets (South Africa, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and Lesotho). She previously served as Executive Director of Strategy and Business Support at the South African Breweries Limited (SAB), a subsidiary of SABMiller. Prior to that, she was CEO of Mvelaphanda Group, where she was one of the youngest Chief Executive Officers of a JSE-listed company at the age of 29. She has held various positions as non-executive director of JSE-listed companies including Life Healthcare, Avusa Media and Steinhoff International amongst others. She is also a member of the Nelson Mandela Investment and Endowment Committee. She is the longest serving board member on the Barclays Africa Group, where she has been a board member since 2006. In 2008, Yolanda was selected as one of the Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum and named as one of the “20 Youngest Powerful Women in Africa” by Forbes Magazine in 2011. In 2015, she was also recognized by France’s Institut Choiseul as one of the Top 200 leaders in Africa. In Ghana, her vision is for Vodafone to drive the digital revolution of Ghana through inclusive innovation and ensuring that no one is left behind digitally. She believes that technology is key to unlocking the potential of societies, especially in countries such as Ghana. She holds degrees in Statistics and Accounting from the Universities of Cape Town and KwaZulu-Natal. She is also an alumnus of the INSEAD International Executive Program and holds a Masters of Commerce (Finance Management) degree from the University of Pretoria. She is passionate about education for all youth, and women in particular. In this regard, she spearheads a foundation that provides university education bursaries for deserving under-privileged youth in South Africa seeking to further their studies in Mathematics, Science and Commerce. She has also been an eager mentor to young professionals in different industries.

Estelle Akofio-Sowah is the Country Manager of Google Ghana

Estelle Akofio-Sowah is the Country Manager of Google Ghana. She has over 14 years of experience in the internet and business development industry in Ghana, including as the Managing Director of Busy Internet, Africa’s hugely successful internet startup, leading a team of 80 professionals in delivering IT-enabled services to an average of 1000 clients per day. Highlights of her leadership include launching Busy’s award winning ISP, implementing the Ghanaian chapter of the World Bank Incubator program and launching and promoting various Google products and programs aimed at making the internet an integral and relevant part of people’s lives. Estelle majored in Economics and Development Studies at the University of Sussex. Her contributions to the internet sector and commitment to excellence earned her selection as a 2008 Fellow of the African Leadership Initiative.

Yvette Atekpe – Regional Managing Director, Internet Solutions

Yvette Adounvo Atekpe has been the Regional Managing Director of Internet Solutions since 2008.  Yvette has been in the telecommunications and information technology sector for over 20 years.  She has been involved in establishing world-class customer service teams for ICT organizations in Africa during her time working in the sector. Ms. Atekpe has served on several Boards including the Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA).  She was a member of the National Communication Planning Committee that drafted Ghana’s 1999 Communications Policy and was a member of the Communications Committee on Girls in technology. Yvette Adounvo Atekpe currently chairs the board of Internet Solutions Ghana, and serves as Director on the boards of Dimension Data West Africa and Internet Solutions Mozambique. She was awarded the ICT Woman of the Year 2014 and Industry Personality of the Year 2016 at the Ghana Telecom Awards. Yvette has an undergraduate degree in Sociology from the University of Ghana, with a focus on Law and Philosophy.  She also holds an MBA (Marketing), a CBA from the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, and a PGD in Marketing of Services from the Maastricht School of Management in Netherlands.

Two decades ago, to have the key verticals in the communications and technology sector in Ghana run by women would have been unheard of. These women have not only challenged expectations but actively advocate for inclusive development and access in their respective industries. While, I would not want the celebrations of theirs and many achievements by other women across Ghana to be limited to today, this International Women’s day is a reminder that we have come a long way. Ayekoo.

About Author
Mavis Ampah Sintim-Misa is the CEO of STINSAD Consult & former World Bank Africa Regional Coordinator and Lead ICT Policy Specialist. STINSAD Consult is a Technology Company that leverages digital technologies to promote inclusive growth, strong institutions, and smart development.

Telecoms Chamber Welcomes Industry Appointees

CEOs & Appointees
CEOs of Mobile Operators and the new Appointees

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications has welcomed the appointment of the new Minister of Communications (MoC) and Director General (DG) of the National Communications Authority (NCA), with an industry cocktail held at its offices.

The Chamber organized an industry cocktail on Tuesday  (February 21st) to welcome the Communications Minister, Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful and the NCA DG Mr. Joe Anokye.

The private cocktail was organized to provide a platform for industry stakeholders to network and build sustainable working relationships with the appointees to further enhance the development of the sector.

“This government is willing to work with the private sector. I have no doubts that Telecommunications is the biggest and best performing industry in Ghana today,” said Mrs Ekuful.

She has served on the Parliamentary Select Committee on Communications in the last Parliament and held managerial roles with Westel Telecommunications and Zain Telecoms in 2009.

On his part, Mr. Anokye said “the Regulator will collaborate with service providers to enrich formulation and implementation of all sector policies to achieve a win-win outcome for government, players and consumers”. Prior to his appointment, Mr. Anokye was a Telecommunications service manager at NASA in the United States.

Mr. Kwaku Sakyi-Addo, CEO of The Chamber, said: “This new appointees bring a wealth of corporate, legal, legislative, technical experience and insights to the Ministry and the NCA. We are confident that they’ll bring these to bear in this new industrial revolution which telecommunications is today.”

The Chairman of the Telecoms Chamber, Mrs Yolanda Cuba said in her remarks, “the industry players will work with government to ensure a thriving sector which empowers and impacts the lives of Ghanaians.

Key officials attended the private cocktail from the NCA, MoC, Telcos, Tower Companies, Parliament, Revenue Authority, Environment Protection Agency, Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications, Radiation Protection Institute (GAEC), Google Ghana, Media, other industry players and their representatives

Instructively, the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications is an industry association and a private initiative by mobile networks operators in Ghana. We are an advocacy institution established to help direct telecommunications policy, legislation and regulation, and pursue research towards the development of telecommunications.


Banks accused of violating Mobile Money Guidelines

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications is worried that banks in the country have chosen to violate the new E-money Issuers Guidelines while the banking industry regulator, Bank of Ghana looks on.

The violation is in respect of what the guidelines said about interests to be paid to mobile money customers.

Section 10 (5 and 6) of the guidelines clearly states that "E-money issuers (telcos) shall pass-through not less than 80% of the interest accrued on the pooled e-money float net of any fees or charges related to the administration of the pooled float accounts to e-money holders (customers)...Any amount in excess of the minimum of 80% interest (i.e. 20% or lower) may be retained by the EMI (telcos). Furthermore, interest generated on over-the-counter transactions which are not associated with a given customer account may be retained in by the EMI."

In spite of this obvious provision which allows telcos to keep 20% of interests on mobile money floats sitting with the banks and pay out 80% to their customers, the Ghana Association of Bankers (GAB) says they would rather pay 100% of interests directly to customers and not allow the telcos to keep the 20% stated in the guidelines.

The guidelines also stated they the banks should set separate accounts and pay all interests from the mobile money floats into it so that telcos can go into that account as and when they want to pay interests to their customers, but this, the banks have not done either.

Majority of banks in the country who understand the mobile money business are said to be willing to follow the provisions of the guidelines, but on the basis of the informed complaints of a few banks, the GAB has instructed all banks not to do what the guidelines said.

Chief Executive of the Chamber, Kwaku Sakyi-Addo told Adom News there is no justification for banks insisting on paying out 100% of interests to customers directly when the guideline is saying something else.

"The banks, telcos, Bank of Ghana and other stakeholders drafted the guidelines together before it was passed as law so it is a betrayal of trust for the banks to now turn around and insist on doing something different from what the guideline says," he said.

He said the telcos expect the Central Bank to insist on all parties upholding the provisions of the guidelines in the interest of the customers, who have, till date, been waiting for their interest but telcos have not been able to pay because the banks are in violation of the guidelines.

Adom a News gathered that many banks in the country are willing and ready to live by the provisions of the guidelines but for the directive of GAB based on complaints by two banks in particular.

Reliable information from those two banks also indicate that their mobile money platform managers are willing to live by the guidelines because they understand the industry but the CEOs of those banks are the ones fighting the whole process.

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo thinks the posture of the banks threatens the financial inclusion drive that informed the drafting of the new guidelines in the first place.

He noted that for years banks have held the cash floats from the mobile platforms but have not paid interest to customers, and now that the guidelines require them to do so and also provides how it should be done, some banks are resisting it.

Kwaku Sakyi-Addo is therefore calling on the Bank of Ghana to intervene and ensure the banks do the right thing.

Source: Myjoyonline.com

Mobile Money usage doubles in 12months

The number of Ghanaian adults with active mobile money accounts has doubled in the past year, and now stands at 17 percent of the adult population according to a new World Bank study on financial inclusion.

The study conducted by the World Bank's Consultative Group to Assist the Poor (CGAP) said Ghana's progress on mobile money is commendable, especially as the service was introduced barely half a decade ago.
According to CGAP Ghana is "the most digital financial services-ready country in Africa" when it comes to the key elements required for successful adoption: 92% of adults have the required ID necessary to open an account and 91% of Ghanaians already own a mobile phone (compared to only 74% and 72% in Kenya and Tanzania, respectively).

The Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications joined key stakeholders at a dialogue session organized by the World Bank Ghana office on Thursday 22nd January 2016, to discuss and deliberate on key findings, opportunities and challenges for mobile financial services.

Mobile Money Momentum in Ghana

The patronage of mobile money continues to gain momentum, as for the third year running the value of transactions has seen an astronomical jump — from GHC2.4billion as at 2013 to about GHC11.6billion in 2014, according to the Central Bank.

The value of mobile money transactions when put into perspective is more than a third of the total deposit liabilities of the 28 banks as at the end of last year, and shows the vital role telecom companies are playing to advance the central bank's cashlite economy agenda - and also ensure that the push for more financial inclusion is brought into the hands of millions of Ghanaians.

Currently, four of the six mobile telcos - MTN, Airtel, Tigo and Vodafone - are involved in the mobile money business, which has grown from a transaction value of GHC171million in 2012 to the multi-billion cedi sector it is now.

Other companies such as Afric Xpress and e-Transact Ghana are also riding on the back of mobile phone popularity with the country's estimated 26-million population, offering various services which allow people to remit money to relatives and friends through the device.

The growth of the transactions' value over the years corresponds with a similar trend in the volume of transactions. So far, the number of transactions has almost quadrupled since 2012: from 30 million to about 106.4 million in 2014.

About CGAP

CGAP (the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor) is a global partnership of 34 leading organizations that seek to advance financial inclusion. CGAP develops innovative solutions through practical research and active engagement with financial service providers, policy makers, and funders to enable approaches at scale. Housed at the World Bank, CGAP combines a pragmatic approach to responsible market development with an evidence-based advocacy platform to increase access to the financial services the poor need to improve their lives.

Source: Telecoms Chamber Communications Desk