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Smartphones killing Internet Cafes in Ghana

The use of smartphones among Ghanaians is killing the operations of Internet Cafes in the country, according to the National Communication Authority (NCA).

The regulator of the telecom industry says gradually, internet cafes are reducing in number due to the usage of smartphones by majority of Ghanaians. PaaRock Vanpercy, the Director General of NCA disclosed this at a media workshop in Accra last week. According to him, data penetration is currently about 37%, which indicate an improvement.

Previously, Ghana had a data penetration of 5%. “Thankfully due to the advent of smartphones, which has allowed more Ghanaians hooking on the internet by the use of their smart phones,” he added. Mr. Vanpercy stated that the number of Internet Cafes in Ghana dropped from 35% in 2011 to 20% in 2012, adding that this was a result of many people using smartphones which enable them access to the internet on it.

However, Accra has the majority of the cafes, compared to the few ones in other cities across the country.
Recently, mobile operators are making impact in delivering data services to their customers.

With the advent of cheap mobile phones and mobile data plans, it comes as no surprise that mobile phones are pushing cyber cafes out of business.

Data services are available to many Ghanaians who use smartphones because of third generation (3G) services in Ghana from the mobile phone operators. Of the 37% data penetration for Ghana as of May this year, Mobile Telecommunication Network (MTN) leads with 63%, Tigo 14%, Vodafone 11%, Airtel 8%, Glo 3% and Expresso with 1%.

However, according to Theodore E. K. Agborli, the Marketing Manager at Busy Internet, the largest Internet Café in Ghana, their operation is going well, even though the number of users who patronize their services have gone down at about 5% progressively. “About 99% of our customers are still coming here and we doing well,” said Agborli.

He noted that what they have observed is the fact that most of their clients use their service for research, printing from the net, filling embassy documents, among others.

Joseph Asante, Caretaker at the Sharpnet Internet café at Osu also said that their customer base has not reduced that much. Even though he refused to mention any figure, he explained that they normally get customers during particular periods of the day. “We cannot get a full house always,” he added.
Story by Yaw Sarpong

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