The Deputy Information Minister, Mr Samual Okudzeto Ablakwa has revealed that, the Information Ministry would soon launch SMS facility to enable Ghanaians across the country to send text messages on concerns or information they want immediate action on to the government.
According to him, the move is in line with President Mills’ principles of accountability and transparency.
Barely two weeks ago, the Information Ministry introduced a programme where 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 social networking website Facebook as another medium to interact and address the concerns of the general public.
â€œWe think that as the managers of government information, we should be able to interact with people on one-on-one basis so that we will be able to address their issues and take their concerns,â€ Mr Ablorkwa told the press in an interview.
Mr Ablakwa said in order to make the text facility easier for the general public, the ministry has been in talks with SMS short codes providers for one short code which would be applicable on all the networks.
Messaging through short codes is more expensive in Ghana than the normal texting but Mr Ablorkwa promised an affordable one for the SMS facility.
“We have asked that the rate should not be the commercial rate that they normally charge people who text to such short codes. With this SMS facility, people will 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 donâ€™t have to charge people for this,â€ he said.
Mr Ablakwa stated that the ministry had already discussed that issue with mobile telecommunication companies in the country and they promised to sort themselves out and they would shortly get back to government.
â€œIt 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” he said.,
He further explained that, if the message recieved requires urgent action, the ministry, department or agency; or state institution that must take the action would quickly be called to take action.