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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Information Ministry to launch SMS facility

Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa
The Ministry of Information would soon launch SMS facility to enable Ghanaians across the country to send text messages on concerns or information they want immediate action on.

According to a Deputy Information Minister, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, the move is in line with President Mills principles of accountability and transparency.

The new method might have been spurred by the support the ministry received barely two weeks after the sector minister, Mrs Zita Okaikoi, and, her two deputies, Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, and James Agyenim Boateng, availed themselves to the general public through the global social network facebook, as another medium to interact and address the concerns of the general public.

“We think that as government information (outfit), we should be able to interact with people one-on-one on a personal basis so that we will be able to address their issues and take their concerns,” Mrs Okaikoi explained.

Meanwhile, Mr Okudzeto Ablakwa tells Joy News the ministry has been in talks with sms short codes providers for one short code which would be applicable on all the networks.

Even though messaging through short codes is more expensive than the normal texting, he said, “we have also asked that the rate should not be the commercial rate that they normally charge people who text to such short codes … this one people would be requesting information that would be pointing to government challenges or criticisms; or that are pointing to matters that need to be addressed urgently, so you don’t have to charge people for this.”
Mr Ablakwa further stated that the network companies are “sorting themselves out and shortly they will get back to us”.

“It is our hope that looking at the success of mobile phone penetration all over the place, we will be able to have this centre here at the Ministry of Information that would run 24 hours where when the text messages arrived they would be viewed on the computer, if it requires urgent action, whoever in the ministry, department or agency; or state institution that must take action would quickly be called to take action so that, may be, we will avert smuggling, we will avert murder, we will avert any mishap.”

Story by Isaac Essel

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