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Telephone Conversations: A History of Telecommunication Economics & MTN in Ghana
The worlds of many economies and cultures are in the greatest of mergers into the dreamt global village. Technology with its many euphemisms: information super high-way, a “period of hyper-change,” cyber universe, digital revolution or renaissance, is changing the lives of all. Africa, as this book by an experienced and prolific development specialist explains, was only two decades ago, classified as a backwater space with its always failing characteristics: unstable governance systems, antiquarian agricultural infrastructure, commodity virility for lack of value addition and low export earnings. Now at the forefront with close to a billion mostly youthful labour and skills markets, its telecommunication networks and economies including start-up digital companies are global.
From South Africa in the pessimism that greeted post-Apartheid has come the multinational, Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) whose impact on all aspects of development in Africa, the Middle East and Asia is phenomenal. By 2018, MTN controlled a substantial share of the three hundred million market subscription in Sub-Saharan Africa, the highest growth region in the world. In Ghana, which is the focus of this book, it is about how the MTN Group at one time under the chairmanship of Cyril Ramaphosa, later President of South Africa, entered West Africa to lead the market in Ghana.
With a largely home-grown skills bank, a new generation is using this technology to grow the country’s economic trajectory – rural agriculture, coastal or blue economy, cottage industry to the mobile financial services and capital markets, provision of African development – technology influenced solutions and apps; and of how corporate philanthropy is built in venture enterprises.
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Ivor AGYEMAN-DUAH is a development specialist and former special advisor on international development cooperation to the Ghanaian President, John Agyekum Kufuor. He is a visiting Associate Professor at the University of Johannesburg and author and co-editor of, Pilgrims of the Night: Development Challenges and Opportunities in Africa, Africa – A Miner’s Canary into the Twenty-First Century – Essays on Economic Governance and An Economic History of Ghana- Half a Century of Challenges and Progress.
Agyeman-Duah serves as Chair of the Advisory Board of the Heritage and Cultural Society of Africa and is a Member of the International Advisory Board of the University of Oxford’s African Studies Centre.
He has served as visiting Research Fellow at the Exeter College of the University of Oxford and the Hutchins Institute at Harvard University. He holds graduate degrees from the London School of Economics, the School of Oriental and African Studies, London and the University of Wales.