GIFEC Uploads Ghana On ICT Global Atlas

gifecThere is an Ewe proverb which may be interpreted to mean: “Any talented kid who dances exceptionally well, it is his mother’s name that is enquired.”

The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) may be relatively an infant industry player in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the country; yet it has succeeded in planting Ghana flag on the world map of communications by winning an international award that brought honour to Ghana.

On Wednesday, May 8, 2013 at the India International Centre, New Delhi, India, under the auspices of the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organization (CTO), with the support of   the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), GIFEC made an unprecedented history by clocking the 2013 World Communication, Multimedia and Infrastructure Association of India’s (CMAI) premium prize.

The occasion was the 7th National Telecom Awards ceremony (NTA) organized by the Government of India in collaboration with a number of Industry Associations in that country. The event which coincided with the 2013 Global ICT Forum was held from May 6 to 8, 2013 and was reportedly attended by over 1,000 international delegates from across the face of the earth.

In fact, GIFEC chalked up this feat for Ghana alongside other nominated world class companies such as TATA, INTEL, ERICSSON, NOKIA, ALCATEL-LUCENT, AIRTEL, BHARTI, the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), the National Internet Exchange of India (NIXI) and a number of others who also received awards in various categories at the same event.

But GIFEC outclassed not only other contesting countries from Africa but the industry players in the whole world. This explains why GIFEC received the Most Outstanding Universal Access Fund and Service Award which fixed Ghana in the centre ofthe world ICT atlas.

Ghanaians ought to make noise about GIFEC’s award because if we fail to blow our  own horns positively, we should not blame others when they come and destroy our natural resources and produce negative documentaries to denigrate our country in the eye of the world. GIFEC’s award was in recognition of its excellent performance in the operation of the Universal Access Fund and Service in our motherland.

Do you remember the biblical adage that a prophet is hardly recognised in his own hometown? This author doesn’t recall whether any local Excellence Award organizers have yet noticed the existence of GIFEC.

So, how come Ghana could win such a prestigious international award by outplacing such giant ICT and Telecom industry players of the world, with standing ovation? Has there been any “kullulu” or “wagadri” in the process of awarding this much-sought-after laureate to Ghana? I wanted to ‘cross-examine the chief witness’ in the ceremony.

Thus, in the afternoon of Tuesday, June 4, 2013, to ascertain the integrity of Ghana’s award, I armed myself with a set of probing questions to interview Mr. Kofi Attor, the Chief Executive and Administrator of GIFEC, who actually went to India to receive the coveted award on behalf Government and the people of Ghana.

At the appointed time, I was warmly ushered in to his office by a charming angel serving as secretary. I politely greeted the man who was busily appending his signatures to some cheques.  But before I could fire my first question at him, the GIFEC boss handed me a three-page-document. “This is a copy of an address I delivered at a press conference to brief the Ghanaian media upon my  return from India with the award,” Mr. Kofi  Attor told me.

With a concentrated attention, I went through the write-up, reading it in between the lines. I must confess that I was completely disarmed, when I finished reading the piece. Why? I realised that all my queries had been answered in the statement.

The only clarification I thought was sensible to seek was to ascertain whether Ghana did apply for the award, or submitted some works for consideration as was the accepted norms. Again, I was more dumbfounded when Mr. Attor stated that GIFEC did not even know about the Award in advance.

He explained that it was the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation, headquartered in the UK that nominated GIFEC without their knowledge. There he proceeded and showed me the magnificent golden plaque received from the hands of no less a personality thanDr. Hamadoun TOURE, the Secretary General of the International Telecommunications Union, ITU at the event.

But what specific criteria were used by CTO to nominate Ghana for the consideration of the award? Apparently, although GIFEC cannot be said to be one of the most vociferous agencies in the country, it has been identified as one of the most focused and efficient service providers of Universal Access Fund to the poor and maginalised people in Ghana.

It cannot be disputed that Ghana still has long kilometers to travel in terms of bridging the digital gap between the urban and rural areas in the country. Nevertheless, if today, some school children in most deprived, unserved and underserved rural communities in the country have had the opportunity to see and touch computers in their life, it is thanks to GIFEC.

If most teacher training colleges now known as Colleges of Education in various districts have computer laboratories on their various campuses, it is by the kind courtesy of GIFEC.

And one practical means by which GIFEC was able to deploy ICT tools such as computers, internet connectivity, mobile telephony, desktop television, multi-media service, as well as computer literacy closer to the door steps of rural dwellers, especially the rural youth, it is through the establishment of the Community Information Centres (CICs) administered by GIFEC under the ministerial over sight of the Ministry of Communications.

It is this pivotal role being played by GIFEC by ensuring that every Ghanaian child, woman or man regardless of their geographical locations in the country, that they  have universal access to electronic communications including broadcasting services and broadband; School Connectivity Project (SCP), the Common Telecommunication Facility (CTF); the Easy Business Centre Project (EBCP) and others were what attracted the attention of the international community for CTO to nominate GIFEC for the laureate.

Records also show that GIFEC, on the quiet, has been partnering with Ghanaian fisher folks in rural communities in the use of some basic electronic fishing gadgets to enhance their fishing businesses to increase their harvest to improve their living standards.

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