In an effort to increase the penetration of internet services in the country, the Ghana Internet Services Providers Association (GISPA) is making a passionate appeal to government to intervene and reduce the import duty on internet equipment imported into the country.
The association said the huge import duty on these equipment – including routers and modems – is having adverse effect on internet prices in Ghana and therefore making access to internet very expensive.
The association's president, Mr. Ernest Brown, speaking in a interview with Myjoyonline.com noted that government's quest to increase internet penetration in Ghana will not be achieved if it does not make the necessary interventions to make it cheap and accessible.
According to him, several factors could be attributed to the high cost of internet in Ghana, notably, the stability of the Ghana cedi, import duty on equipments and the lack of local content.
Mr. Ernest Brown explained that the stability of the Ghana cedi is very important "because most of these bandwidth we buy from outside are always priced in dollars. If the ISP or the internet service provider needs to meet its obligation, you always need to forecast, where the cedi will be in the next year or so and based on that you do certain price adjustments."
He further disclosed that "there is the possibility that internet prices may go up because now we have increases in VAT, there are increases in utility tariffs and of course coupled with the stability of the cedi," adding that "Unless certain measures are taken, then it will be difficult to bring these prices down."
"Prices can be brought down, when we have huge numbers of people using the internet," he said but lamented that "the subscriber equipment that a customer needs to have access to the internet are quiet high because there are huge import duty on these equipments so these are some of the things we expect government intervention to ensure that we improve internet penetration by reducing the cost of entry", Mr. Brown noted.
Internet penetration in Ghana is between 12 to 16 percent and the GISPA president believes that the "industry needs to work with government in trying to come up with policies that will allow for the growth of internet in Ghana."
He revealed that GISPA has started advocating for an increased internet penetration and usage in Ghana.
GISPA was formed in 1990 and it currently has 23 members – mostly made up of ISPs and telecommunication networks in Ghana.
The core mandate of the association is to protect the interest of ISPs in Ghana, to drag the widespread adoption of internet access and services throughout the country, to pursue satisfactorily to resolve issues affecting ISPs in a systematic manner, and to communicate pertinent ISP related information to stakeholders.
"As part of our mandate, we have decided sometime next year to commission internet statistics report in Ghana, which obviously will be the report that people might refer to" for internet usage in Ghana, Mr. Ernest Brown asserted.