Telecom sector is new economic powerhouse – Ken Ashigbey

The information and communication sector has for the first time in recent history, outperformed all other sectors of the economy, making it the main driver of economic growth in the second quarter of 2019.

According to data released by the Ghana Statistical Service (GSS), the information and communication sector grew year-on-year by as much as 52.8 percent, the highest growth by any industry in the services sector in recent years, at least, since rebasing was done in 2012. The only sector that came close to the information and communication sector in the period under review was real estate which recorded growth of 14.9 percent.

The figure is even more impressive when put in historical perspective. The information and communication sector, just two years ago, saw a contraction of 1.9 and 2.6 percent respectively in the second and third quarters of 2017.

However, in the second quarter of 2018 (same period this year), growth jumped to 15 percent. What it means is that in just a span of one year, growth has more than tripled – making the information and communication sector the new economic powerhouse.

Government Statistician Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, when announcing the figures last week, said that the phenomenal performance of the sector was largely driven by growth in the use of mobile data.

The most recent data from the National Communication Authority (NCA) can be used to, some extent, substantiate his comments as it reports that the total subscription of 2G and 3G mobile data as at the end of 2018 was more than 26 million, indicating a penetration rate of 88.8 percent.

The industry’s leader MTN had more than half of the figure as their market share for the period was 59.7 percent. AirtelTigo followed with 23.2 percent share, whereas Vodafone recorded 16 percent, with Glo only capturing less than 1 percent of the mobile data market.

With respect to 4G network, total number of subscribers were more than 1.1 million. MTN still topped with more than 92 percent, followed by Surfline – 4.8 percent; broadband home – 2.2 percent, and Blu 0.03 percent, all these culminating in the growth seen in the telecom sector.

The growth of the information and communication sector further retained its mother – the services sector—as the largest contributor to the economy with 49.1 percent, whereas industry and agriculture contributed the remaining half of the GDP with 35.6 and 15.3 percent.

Overall, the economy grew by 5.7 percent in the second quarter of 2019 as the services sector overtook the industry sector, growing by 6.5 percent whereas the latter grew by 6.1 percent.

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