Reducing the cost of data is the key to greater adoption of electronic services

Over the past few years, the government has made a conscious effort to contribute to economic growth through digitalization.

This is seen in the growing adoption of electronic services (e-services) in most government ministries and agencies in Ghana.

Some e-services platforms, such as those of the Ghana Revenue Authority (GRA) Non-Resident Digital Services/E-Commerce Registration Portal and Government of Ghana platforms, promote inclusion digital technology, enabling millions of Ghanaians to benefit from better and easier access to health care, education and financial services.

E-services have also contributed to Ghana’s economic growth.

For example, e-commerce sales in Ghana are expected to reach US$759 million in 2022.

This will represent a 19% growth from the 2021 figure of $638 million.

This figure, according to available statistics, is estimated to reach US$1.3 billion by 2025.

Data cost

However, the sustainability of e-services largely depends on citizen participation and reliable ICT infrastructure, such as affordable internet or data.

There has been an argument that the high cost of internet and poor connectivity in Ghana can negatively affect the government’s digitization agenda and limit digital inclusion and economic growth.

To put an end to this, a financial technology professional, Mr. Francis Appiah advised the government to consider data as a utility resource by reducing its cost to create greater adoption of e-services in the country.

This, he said, would increase the adoption of e-services and help the government track and tax citizens to generate more revenue to develop the country.

Mr. Appiah gave this advice on Tuesday, March 22, 2022 at the Graphic Business/Stanbic Bank Breakfast.

Under the theme: “Integrating Electronic Services into Our Economy: Implications for Economic Growth,” Tuesday’s meeting was the first of four quarterly events scheduled for the year to highlight topics that border on the economy.

It brought together experts from the Fintech industry to discuss how to maximize the gains from e-services for the economy.

Mr. Appiah, speaking in an interview with Graphic Business Acting Editor Charles Benoni Okine shortly after the event, said: “Increasingly, the Internet is a utilitarian resource and no longer a commodity resource and if we have to think of data as a utility, our thinking about how we price it will change. We need to prioritize reducing the cost of data as a country to create more adoption.

“Data or the internet is the foundation of our digital economy and without it, e-services will not exist,” he said.

“I think the government needs to look at what components of their components affect the data price increase and see where there is some flexibility and lower the rate that is currently being charged for data so that as many people as possible can afford to consume that,” Mr. Appiah said.

Digitization

Earlier in his opening remarks to the meeting, the Managing Director of Graphic Communications Group Limited (GCGL), Mr. Ato Afful said that digitalization is fast becoming a new way of engaging globally as the world was becoming more and more dependent on the Internet.

The consequence of this phenomenon, he said, was that services and commerce were also becoming technology- and mobile-based.

He said Ghana, like many other countries, has responded by making significant changes in integrating e-services into the economy.

Mr. Afful said the e-service offers a large global market with enormous economic value.

Conclusion

It is clear from the arguments that the cost of data can drive the adoption and use of e-services in the country.

Many are hesitant to use electronic services because they do not want to pay more for data, the price of which has increased in recent times.

It is understandable that voice revenue is no longer sustainable and therefore telecom operators suffer losses with this service. The new area to break even or make a profit is in data whose use has increased due to the use of social media among others.

It is however a fact that the more people use electronic services, the more the government can expand the tax net to increase domestic revenue.

As the tech expert said, for the government to attract more people to use e-services, efforts that would help reduce the cost of data are essential.

The various issues raised during the breakfast meeting clearly indicate that e-services are here to stay and the sooner the state realizes this position to play its part to increase the upside, the better it will be for the economy. .


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