Mobile operator Tigo Ghana, in partnership with USAID’s Ghana Sustainable Fisheries Management Project and the Ghana Fisheries Commission, has launched a communication package for fishermen in the country’ coastal communities. Starting off as a pilot project, the integrated package includes voice, internet, Tigo Cash and Tigo Insurance services. It also comes with subsidized mobile handsets.
Stephen Essien, Chief Business Officer for Tigo Business, said the pilot phase will run until the end of the year and then will be expanded based on outcomes. The initial roll-out targets Adina, Bortianor, Elmina and Axim, coastal communities in Ghana’s Central and Western regions.
A recent report on 135 countries by Ericsson concludes that mobile internet penetration is a major driver of GDP. The study, titled “How Important Are Mobile Broadband Networks for Global Economic Development?” and conducted in partnership with the Imperial College of London, found that in 2016, increasing penetration by 10 percent lifted GDP by 0.6 percent to 2.8 percent. The report noted that developing countries in particular have used mobile broadband to “leapfrog” in their economic development over the past 10 to 15 years.
Tigo Ghana’s fishermen’s package is a small but compelling example of how this process works and how mobile operators can play a role in the development of countries in which they are based or do business. Africa is notable for its emerging “mobile-first” economies; by providing grass-roots-level small entrepreneurs such as fishermen with the means to communicate via mobile and access vital business information via mobile data, Tigo will be able to significantly increase their ability to generate revenue. Providing handsets will only aid the process, given the fact that the initial investment of buying a device could be prohibitive for some. And by connecting the service to Tigo Cash, its mobile money service, the operator is taking the idea to its logical conclusion, since the rural-based economies in many African countries are now driven mainly by mobile money.
It should be noted that in order for this public-private pilot program to succeed, there must exist an appropriate level of network connectivity in the relevant regions. Presumably Tigo either already can provide this quality of service or will be creating it as part of the initiative.