Graphic Business News

GIFEC explores funding options to sustain projects

By: Jessica Acheampong
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Mr Abraham Kofi Asante – The CEO, GIFEC.
Mr Abraham Kofi Asante – The CEO, GIFEC.

THE Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) is exploring other strategic partnerships to raise additional income to support and sustain its projects.

The Chief Executive (CEO) of GIFEC, Mr Abraham Kofi Asante, explained that although GIFEC was not a commercial entity, it needed to sustain its projects and it, therefore, constantly looked for business models to generate additional income.

GIFEC, he said, was in the process of establishing links with different entities to make use of its Community Information Centres (CICs) to offer services that would generate income aside the traditional funding sources.

“We will use our CIC to do business. For example, if you want to do any secretarial work and you come to the CIC, we can offer you space. As we offer you the space and you do your business, we generate money to pay the bills and keep the place going,” he said at a media engagement in Accra. 

GIFEC, he said, was looking at partnering with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Authority (DVLA) so they could deploy their electronic services through GIFEC’s CICs to communities that they did not have physical presence.

Again, GIFEC is exploring the option of partnering with Ghana post to offer postal and courier services within the CICs using available data resources.

“We also have provisions for those who offer online courses with our available computers. All these are Memorandum of Understanding (MoUs) we are establishing, and when we generate the income, we use them to maintain our facilities,” he added.

The CIC is a hybrid profit-making tele-centre and a non-profit community resource centre intended to provide business services and community development information to remote communities.

These centres, which are built by the Ministry of Communications and managed by GIFEC functions as information hubs, provide connectivity to ministries, departments and agencies, private businesses and educational institutions, as well as individuals in beneficial rural communities.

So far, 241 CICs have been established out of which 182 are equipped with computers, scanners, printers and photocopiers.

Current funding source
Mr Asante explained that financial resources for the fund are generated through contributions from licensed telecommunication operators, money provided by Parliament, as well as donation, grants and gifts.

Other sources include money that accrue to the fund from investment made by the Trustees of the Fund, as well as any other money that may become lawfully payable to the fund.

Challenges
Studies have shown that communities typically have difficult topological conditions, unreliable electric supply, severe climatic conditions that make critical demands on equipment supplied and the low level of economic activities and population density which do not offer commercial inventive for the telecom operators to penetrate. 

These challenges coupled with disparity in information and communication services between the urban and rural areas, as well as technical personnel, have brought about the digital gap being experienced today.

Some initiatives
The ICT for livelihood programme, he said, was instituted to provide material support for the development of creative, innovative and high value ICT activities within communities across Ghana, which would tap into the resources and knowledge of the local populations.

The ICT for Livelihood programme presents opportunities for enhancing the economic lives of Ghanaians, through the application of ICT in everyday activities.

One of the projects under the programme being undertaken by GIFEC is the Smart Community Project, which provides  affordable or free WIFI service to the unserved or the underserved communities across the country.  

“It is a base or access point for providing all other broadband services to those communities, including but not limited to Digital for Inclusion (D4I), Cloud Content and is being piloted in five communities, namely, Kyebi, Asumura, Asankragwa, Goaso and Berekum,” he said. — GB