[WHERE THERE ARE NO PHONES is a Joy FM Hotline documentary airing at 8:30am on Thursday on the Super Morning Show]
The ability to communicate with one another has become a critical need of humanity more than ever in the 21st century.
Communication through the digital space has become very easy through the huge investments in high tech telecommunication infrastructure for nearly everyone living in cities and big towns across the country.
But as you travel deeper into the villages and very deprived rural areas, the situation is very different.
In the following story Kwaku Owusu Peprah tells the painful stories of deaths, poverty and the frustrations rural dwellers endure just because they live in places where there are no phones.
At Wassa Kakabo the residents are mainly farmers who grow mainly cocoa and other foodstuffs.
The bumpy, long winding road from Daboase, the district capital to Kakabo is one of the worst in the country. One disturbing fact is that people there struggle before they can make a simple phone call.
The cost of not making that phone call can be very expensive and sometimes fatal. This is because in villages like Kakabo, where access to healthcare is very limited, rural folks have to travel very long distances before they reach the nearest hospital or clinic. Many die while making this journey.
“A few days ago, we had to carry my daughter who was due to deliver. She delivered on the way. But the baby died. If we were able to call for transportation, the baby would have survived,” a resident of Kakbo, a town in the Mpohor Wassa East District of the Western Region narrated.
These have led to life expectancy at birth of 54.4 per cent and an infant mortality rate of 59 per 1,000 live births in these areas.
Amewuda is one of the few residents here who own mobile phones. As he shared his bitter frustrations he pulled out his old flip Sony Erickson mobile phone from his pocket and handed it to me.
When I pressed the power button, the screen lighted up and clearly displayed the network status on the blue and white screen. “No network. SOS calls only”.
Anytime he has to place a call he must walk to the school compound.
Rural people constitute 56.2 per cent of the population in Ghana. They mainly depend on subsistence agriculture and often lack access to basic needs such as water, education, health care, employment and sanitation.
Mobile phones work by communicating through radio waves using a system of base station or cell sites that send and receive calls and relay them to other network.
But with radio waves, reliability is influenced by many factors, such as the proximity of the phone to the base station with which it is communicating, physical obstacles, and interference or natural disturbances that tend to distort communications.
Today in Ghana, nearly all of the network providers claim to cover the whole country. Yet there are still many dead zones or obstructed areas all over the country.