2011 was a very big year for tech-related issues in Ghana. The past year saw the launch of many products and service that may very well revolutionize personal and business life in Ghana. This week we take a look backwards at some of the innovations and events of the past year, and then take a look forward at how these events could transform Ghana in 2012 and beyond.
1. Internet Coverage
2011: Despite continuous improvement, Ghana’s Internet penetration rate is still quite low at less than 10%. However, some big changes occurred last year which should transform this demographic. First off, the past year saw the arrival of two important submarine fiber-optic cable systems promising greater internet connection capabilities. The Glo-1 cable arrived and was launched in April of last year. MTN’s West Africa Cable System (WACS) followed the next month and is expected to go commercial early 2012. In another arena, Vodafone Ghana launched its Webbox product in May. This innovative product looks to make the Internet personally accessible to Ghanaians unable to afford the purchase of a full computer.
2012: As more businesses and services connect to the available high speed internet capacity from Glo-1 and WACS, internet speed, quality and reliability in the county should soar. The success of products like Vodafone’s Webbox and increased mobile internet usage should lead to a rapid rise in Internet penetration and literacy rates across the country. This bodes well for web services in Ghana such as e-banking and e-commerce that seek to take advantage of the Ghanaian internet population.
2. Mobile Coverage & Services
2011: The past year was a banner year for mobile service providers in the country. MTN recorded the milestone of reaching 10 million customers in the country as mobile networks all around increased their customer bases and launched more services. Ghana’s mobile penetration rate stands today at over 80% and continues to grow. The implementation of SIM Registration and Mobile Number Portability has increased competition amongst Telecom companies in the country as they look to attract and hold onto customers. The past year was also a good year for mobile services as many existing businesses like banks extended their services to the mobile arena. New services such as Esoko Ghana (launched Feb. 2011) and Streemio launched (Dec. 2011) to offer quality mobile services.
2012: This year should see the commercial launch of Ghana’s sixth mobile operator, GLO Mobile, this will help to further improve and cheapen the cost of mobile services in Ghana as greater competition ensues. The high percentage of mobile phone usage in the country bodes well for mobile application developers and mobile services to take advantage of this largely untapped market. Expect to see more mobile services being offered by established players and young entrepreneurs.
3. Mobile and Internet Payments
2011: Ghana first began to experiment with, and see the benefits of, mobile payments with the launch of MTN’s Mobile Money service in 2009. Over the years the Mobile Money service has grown and become more popular with Ghanaians. 2011 proved that Ghanaians had come to accept and use mobile payments as other services came on board to take advantage of this market. Last year, Tigo Cash made some major strides and Airtel Money (previously Zap) was re-launched. Electronic Payments also saw a major boost first with the announcement of a collaboration between MTN’s mobile Money and VISA to create a prepaid account that can be accessed through mobile devices and used to make payments online (though not yet available in Ghana). Alongside that eZwich has made great strides in its service adoption over the year. Local SMEs also made an entry into the electronic payments market with services such as iWallet, www.iwallet.com.gh entering the market delivering innovative online payment solutions.
2012: This year promises to be a great year for mobile and electronic payment services as well as mobile commerce and e-Commerce activities. With the presence of so many credible services we may finally see the beginnings of an e-Commerce revolution in Ghana. With the necessary infrastructure now available businesses can look to creating their own e-commerce sites to take greater advantage of local and international markets. The Ghanaian consumer can expect to do more shopping online and over their mobile phone.
Next week we will take a look at some more areas you can look out for in the coming year..
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