Business News of 2014-05-17

Ghana marks World Telecommunication Day

Ghana has marked World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD) with a call on government, industry, academia and technical experts to harness the catalytic role of ICTs in achieving sustainable development.

“I call on partners…to identify key gaps in broadband research and development, infrastructure and packed development of applications and services and to seek leading edge technological solutions, particularly in the extension of broadband access into rural areas, least developed countries and small island developing states”, Dr Hamadoun I. Toure, Secretary-General of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) said in a message issued to mark the day.

The theme for 2014 celebration is “Broadband for Sustainable Development”.

In a message read on his behalf by Albert E. Enniful, Deputy Director General, National Communication Authority (NCA), Dr Toure said the right to communication was central to the information society.

He said: “It is now well recognized that digital development is a transformational tool to fast track sustainable development. In order to realize its full potential, it is essential to roll out high speed broadband networks, making it affordable as well as universally accessible.”

Dr Edward Omane Boamah, Minister of Communications, said the rapid growth of the digital economy presents huge opportunities for development, creating global markets for applications and services, reducing the cost of doing business and unleashing creativity and innovation.

According to him, the internet can contribute significantly to the economy, economic growth, job creation and innovation in the development of new services and applications.

He quoted a 2011 analysis of 13 countries by the Mc Kinsey Global Institute which found that the internet contributed 11 percent of growth over the past five years.

He explained that in Ghana, developments in the telecommunication landscape had greatly facilitated improved performances of all sectors of the economy and enhanced national cohesion, entrepreneurial development and citizen empowerment.

The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), on its part has been concentrating on the provision of universal access projects and programmes to underserved and un-served areas of the country.

Some of the initiatives undertaken include the provision of Internet connectivity for 200 institutions and installation of rural telephony access points to over 500 rural communities.

“Through these investments in infrastructure development made by both Government and the Private Sector players in the sector, the cost of access to bandwidth has substantially dropped over the years as we strive to meet our goal of provision of affordable access to ICT infrastructure by all without geographic restrictions,” he stated.

He mentioned that as at the end of March 2014, the total telephone subscription for both cellular and fixed lines stood at 28,933, 740 compared to 28,026,482 in December 2013- an increase of 907, 258 subscribers in three months.

According to him, there is also a national terrestrial optic fibre network that is being built to cover all the Districts and Constituency areas of the country.

He added that Ghana successfully connected its terrestrial optic fibre with those of neighbouring sister countries -Burkina Faso and Togo, adding that, “We have also established a point of presence on the western border, preparing to directly connect with La Cote d’Ivoire, in addition to the submarine link. By this, Ghana has already fulfilled the ITU’s Connect-Africa target, before the 2015 deadline.”

To complement and also support the private sector to reach out to all areas and sectors of the economy with affordable broadband, under the national e-Government Platform Project, 30 existing World Wide Interoperability Microwave Access (WIMAX) sites have been upgraded to Long Term Evolution (LTE) technology.

90 more sites are being constructed to enable the deployment of advanced ICT Applications in education, health, commerce, Open Government and other business opportunities.

He stated that Internet usage is growing steadily with increased capacity for the deployment of 4th Generation Applications. In partnership with the internet community, Government is supporting the development of critical internet infrastructure by arranging for the supply of additional switches for Internet Exchange Points (IXPs).