Contrary to the impression that persons living in rural communities would be more inclined to use mobile money services due to their reliance on relations, acquaintances and friends in urban areas for remittances, a report – the ‘Household Survey on Information Communications Technology (ICT)’ – has revealed the contrary.
Due to the inability of many in the rural areas to access bank accounts due the distance they would need to cover for banking services, it was envisaged that many of them would create mobile money accounts for convenient financial transactions; but the survey put together by the National Communications Authority (NCA) and Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) revealed a significant gap between the rural and urban usage of mobile money services.
According to the survey, at the national level 40.8 percent indicated that they had used mobile money services; but a greater percentage of individuals from the rural localities had never used mobile money services.
A telecommunication expert, Sampson Awal, told the B&FT that the situation may be the result of a level of illiteracy in rural areas.
“Some people are not well-educated and fear that they may be duped or would struggle to get access to their money, so they may rely on the mobile money merchants to receive remittances and take their cash home. I think more money goes to the rural communities, but just into a few accounts accessible to all community members.”
The survey also found that only 16.8 percent of households in the country have access to Internet services: comparatively, access to the Internet in urban areas stood at 20 percent, which is higher than that of rural localities at 12.8 percent. Also, about 63.2 percent of individuals aged 5 years and older in urban localities own a mobile phone, while only 44.8 percent of those in rural localities own a mobile phone.
According to the NCA, the objective of the ‘Household Survey on Information Communications Technology (ICT) in Ghana’ survey was to provide a reliable database at the household level to meet the increasing demand for data on ICT indicators; as well as contribute to policy and data-driven decision-making to promote development of the ICT industry in Ghana.
The Survey was conducted in June 2019, through a collaborative effort between the NCA and GSS. It measured Ghana’s ICT development based on ICT Access, Usage, Skills and Digital Divide, focusing on ICT indicators that are consistent with standards used by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in computing the ICT Development Index (IDI).
Survey sample size
The survey covered 5,946 households from all regions of the country, focusing on individual ownership and usage of mobile phones, SIM cards and computers, Internet access and usage, mobile money, bundling, households’ ownership and usage of ICT products and services.
The authority is hopeful that this baseline study will afford governments, regulators and other stakeholders an overview of current trends and potential changes to anticipate in the ICT space going forward. “As a forward looking body, the NCA will continue to take measures that strengthen its regulatory obligation to reinforce its decision-making through empirical evidence,” a statement from the NCA said.