The National Communications Authority (NCA), has granted the four telecommunication companies operating in the country,namely AirtelTigo, Glo, MTN and Vodafone, the permission to send Emergency Communications from the Ghana Health Service (GHS) on the COVID-19 Global Pandemic to all their subscribers.
According to the Authority, the arrangement forms part of efforts to educate consumers and the public on the Coronavirus pandemic. Ghana has already recorded seven imported cases of the virus, which has affected 180,000 globally, and killed over 8,000 people.
As at the end of January 2020, the total number of mobile voice subscriptions for all the telecommunication networks in the country was 41,380,751, according to the NCA, representing a total penetration rate of 136.79% in a country of about 30 million people.
For some stakeholders, the high level of mobile penetration presents an opportunity for effective dissemination of accurate information on the Coronavirus to the Ghanaian public.
The networks on their part have welcomed the arrangement to disseminate the unsolicited messages.
The CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunicationsm Kenneth Ashigbey explained how the arrangement will work, with other steps the chamber is taking to help in the fight against the possible spread of the Coronavirus.
“This will mean unsolicited messages just on COVID-19 to consumers, in the form of text messages. We are also looking into using our social media platforms to share videos and audios as well.”
“If we however get to a point where we need to escalate it, we might with permission from the Ministry of Communication and the regulator, broadcast messages to our subscribers which will show up on phones as notifications” Mr. Ashigbey added.
Using the ‘112’ emergency line for COVID-19 cases
The NCA also added that it will be working with the Mobile Network Operators and the National Emergency Communications Centre to route all calls placed to the COVID-19 emergency numbers at no cost to the public through the existing emergency number, 112.
The public is therefore advised to refer all emergencies including those related to COVID–19 to the national emergency number, 112.