A new era is dawning in Ghana’s mobile telecommunications sector as MTN Ghana, the industry leader, is putting spotlight on rural telephony to improve the quality of voice and data services in the rural communities of the country.
The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Ebenezer Asante who announced this at the annual MTN editors’ forum in Accra yesterday, added that within the next three years the mobile company would invest greatly in network infrastructure in these rural areas.
“We have solid network infrastructure in the urban areas which can stay more than a year without any problem. Now, we are going to work with the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to enhance rural coverage”, he stated.
To this end, part of a $62 million that has earmarked for network, growth, and innovation and business optimisation investments would be invested on sites and upgrade of existing ones in the rural communities this year.
Mr Asante was happy to say that as the leading mobile network operator they want to provide a favourable environment for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the rural areas to thrive.
The provision of ubiquitous voice and data services in these communities would attract investors there to open businesses, while some companies would also expand their branches to the rural areas, according to him.
This will generate jobs thereby minimizing the rural-urban migration in the country.
Solid financial performance
Taking the journalists through the performance of the telecom firm in 2015, MTN Ghana contributed significantly to the overall MTN Group profits for the year under review, with revenue increasing by 0.1% to 146.4 billion South African Rand.
In the light of a very competitive market and high levels of penetration in the Ghanaian market, the telecom industry leader recorded encouraging growth, with about GHC2, 315 million increase revenues and 17.3% increase in subscribers, Mr Asante added.
The MTN Ghana CEO who used more than three hours to present the financial statement attributed the strong network’s subscriber growth to attractive voice and data offers aimed at subscriber acquisition and churn management.
The data component of MTN Ghana alone revenue went up 85.2% contributing 30.6% to total revenue supported by improved device strategy and focus on 3G coverage and quality, smartphones increased by 40.8% to 3.2 million were the key drivers of the growth.
MTN Mobile Money Ltd Set Up
Touching on MTN Mobile Money, Mr Asante was quick to reveal that per the Bank of Ghana (BoG) guidelines, the MTN Mobile Money Limited has been set up as a subsidiary of MTN Ghana mandating it to concentrate strictly on mobile money business in the country.
He further disclosed that the mobile money enterprise of the business has contributed more 6% to MTN Ghana. Currently there are 6 million registered mobile money customers on the network as against over two million in 2014.
Mr Asante emphasised that in an effort to bring mobile money services to the doorsteps of subscribers, the mobile operator had partnered a number of local banks including Access Bank, Agricultural Development Bank (ADB), Cal Bank, Ecobank, Fidelity, GT Bank, Universal Merchant Bank, Stanbic, UBA and Zenith.
MTN Ghana, which is the largest telecom network, is available across Ghana in all the Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) and key villages and towns in the country, so as the mobile money or mobile banking platform.
It is available in all the over 77 MTN service centres and 35,000 mobile money merchants doted across the country.
Also, the service enables MTN Mobile Money customers with the help of partners like Lyca, WorldRemit and Xpress Money and several others to receive money from abroad instantly on their phones.
Ghanaians in UK, Australia, Switzerland, Qatar, etc are able to send money to their relatives and friends via the service.
MTN Mobile Money users can pay their DSTV and ECG bills and school fees, purchase airline tickets, as well as pay for goods purchased at Melcom Plus, Max Mart and other online shops.
Contribution to Gov’t
On MTN’s tax obligation to the Ghanaian government, he stated that for very GH¢1 spent by a customer, a total of 34.5% of it goes into the payment of taxes, such as the Value Added Tax (VAT), National Health Insurance Levy (NHIL), National Communications Authority (NCA), and other forms of taxes.
Mr. Asante told the editors that in 2015 alone MTN Ghana has paid a whopping GHC675.6 million to the government as taxes as against GHC605 million in 2014.
While the MTN Ghana Foundation, the CRS wing of the telecom firm has over the years spent over millions of Ghana cedis on numerous projects in health, education and economic empowerment across the country.
In MTN’s effort to transform the Ghanaian society, the network operator has also introduced ‘MTN Heroes of Change’ programme, aimed at rewarding ordinary people who have played significant roles in transforming lives and communities.
In a brief message, the Chairman, National Media Commission, Kwasi Gyan-Apenteng was confident that with the meteoric growth of the telecom sector, journalists would have 24/7 network access to enable them provide timely and accurate information to the people during the November polls.
He also used the occasion to thank the first Ghanaian CEO of MTN Ghana, Mr Asante and his team for their continuous support to the Ghanaian media.
The President of Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Affail Monney added his voice to the call on MTN Ghana to support the media to enable them cover the November elections peacefully.