Former President John Dramani Mahama has appealed to the government to negotiate with telecommunication companies to reduce their rates during this lockdown period.
He said that the practice of social distancing in these unusual times has made the Internet a vital commodity keeping families and friends connected, therefore, “the cost of Internet and voice services should be kept as low as possible, so that as many of us can continue to stay in touch with each other”.
This, Mahama believes, will bring relief to a lot of people who have resorted to the Internet to conduct businesses and the many who are working from home.
He observed that the gesture will as well reduce the cost burden on students who are studying via the Internet due to the president’s directives that schools closed down.
John Dramani Mahama suggested that the government could offer the telecommunications firms a free six-month extension of licences where they are about to expire so that the monetary value could be applied to cushion consumers over three-months.
“Additionally, the Telcos can also be compensated with funds from the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication (GIFEC), which already has the mandate to ensure universal access to telecommunication,” Mahama said when presenting a package for 20,000 households within the partial lockdown areas in Accra.
The leader and flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) also asked the National Information Technology Agency (NITA) to leverage its robust broadband infrastructure – 4G cell sites and fibre optic cables to meet the increased demand for wireless and fixed broadband during these COVID-19 times.
“The removal of the 50 per cent increase in the Communication Service Tax (CST) will provide further relief for the many who are having to work or stay at home at this time,” the former president and now NDC presidential candidate stressed.
Mahama’s Coronavirus suggestions have become a key campaign message and the government usually tries to implement in order that the opposition may not score too much political points with it.
Many people, particularly teachers and students will be watching keenly to see what happens.
“I need a minimum of 10 gigabytes a week to complete my weekly only lectures and assignments,” a private university student told GhanaWeb.