Mahama over the years has shown that he understands the complexities of the world he lives in. As far back as in April 1997, when he was appointed a Deputy Minister of Communications, he had proven to be unmatched in any sphere he finds himself. No wonder by dint of hard work, sheer intelligence, home-grown wisdom, pragmatism and ability to learn fast, he was soon promoted to the post of a Substantive Minister of Communications in about a year time in November 1998, serving in that capacity until January 2001, when the ruling NDC handed over power to the NPP.
I remember vividly in 1998, (by the courtesy of my Dad, who never missed buying Daily Graphic and Times on weekdays and the Mirror and Spectator on weekends) through Mahama’s instrumentality, ingenuity and versatility, Ghana intensified and expanded the use of cell phones or mobile phones.
It is still fresh in my memory, when the opposition NPP attacked that deal by the NDC government with a Malaysian company and threatened to abrogate the deal that the government of Ghana had entered with the Malaysians then. Spearheading the criticisms and attacks was the legendary Mr. Kwame Pianim, a one time presidential hopeful of NPP and an economic guru. NPP’s problem was that, Ghana has not reached an age or a state where we could use mobile phones and cited Nigeria as an example of a country in West Africa with large market but has not incorporated the use of mobile phones in their economy. Again, NPP was absolutely incensed by the contract because they claimed Malaysia was not a country that Ghana should deal business of such nature with as relating to communications because Malaysia was a developing country itself.
Through Mahama’s initiative and drive, the number of mobile phone users in the country increased from 19,000 in 1992 to 43,000 in 1998 and by the middle of 1999 the number increased to 68,000. Around 1999 and 2000 four companies were competing for cellular customers, and the usage rose from 68, 000 thereabouts to 132,000 subscribers. The rest is history as mobile communication networking endeared itself to the good people of Ghana as the years worn on due to ease, convenience, portability, confidentiality, businesses-likeness and affordability of its usage.
The point here is that if you are a Ghanaian and most importantly if you live in Ghana and luckily for you, you have a cell phone to use, you own John Dramani Mahama a tonne of gratitude, because at the time he was working his ass off to ensure that Ghana liberalizes its communications networks, NPP did not only kicked against it, they argued strongly that Ghana was not mature for mobile communication services.
Left to NPP alone, Ghana would have started using cell phones probably after Nigeria which first experience with mobile communication services was 6th August, 2001.
By Patrick Yeboah