Business News of Wed, 27 Aug 20030
'One Dial' to Sink $400m in Telecom Industry
ONE DIAL Communications Limited, a network service provider, intends to invest over $400 million in the telecommunication industry after being granted a license to operate in the country by the National Communications Authority (NCA), the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr. Bing Aidoo, has said in Accra.
He told The Chronicle in an interview in Tema last Friday, "a further $1 billion investment would be brought in if the initial investment yields positive result."
Mr. Aidoo said the company would create Information Technology (IT) villages at specific locations comparable to that of the Silicon Valley in California to attract companies from within and without the country to cite ICT and other related industries.
The company has identified two areas where their investment would go. The IT Triangular Metropolitan Area or city which covers the area between Cape Coast, Mankessim and Denkyira, would form the "Silicon Valley" for the southern portion of the country whiles that for the northern half would be located around the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to be linked with the university as it exists in California between their university and the Silicon Valley.
He said companies with relocation technology would also relocate in the areas where they would be cited. The CEO stated that there is a similar proposal for Takoradi and its environs. Although the project has not started, it has already attracted many companies from the USA, Canada, Europe and China of which DAWU Gold Resources is one, he said. DAWU Gold Resources Limited in partnership with China Gold is already registered in the country to invest.
According to the Director of DAWU, Ada R. Zhao, they are here to invest in gold and mass transportation, among others.
Another company, Mac Zee S.A. International, which produces organic products, intends to set up at Bawku in the Upper East region to treat waste into manure. It will clean mines too.
He said delay and uncertainty in the enforcement of the LI on opening up of the industry to private investment, which was passed by parliament in March is hampering the smooth implementation of the project, adding that the depreciation of the cedi and inflation are eroding their initial capital. "The NCA has received our application and we hope it would process it as soon as possible for us to start work".
The CEO noted that these delays are making their financial backers hesitant about investing in the country and advised the NCA to implement the spirit of the National Communications Regulations, 2003, L.I. 1719which abolished the exclusivity that Ghana Telecom and Westel had, and to regulate interconnectivity among regulators.
Mr. Aidoo said that Nigerians fought for this investment to go to Nigeria but did not materialize because most technicians involved are Ghanaians but cautioned that with these delays, the company might be forced to move to Nigeria.
Dr. Kwabena Riverson, a Sprint top telecommunication engineer in the US and George Baiden, One Dial telecommunication engineer are some of the numerous Ghanaians in the west who are involved with the project. "They are coming down to help the country grow".
He said for the NCA to perform these tasks effectively with the coming of about 40 new entrants into the industry, structures of the authority should be strengthened and capacities upgraded. "NCA should be ready", he added. He stressed that as soon as the license is given to them by NCA, "technicians would just come in to plug the network". "That is the only thing we've been waiting for two years," he added.
George Baiden said the network they are proposing would be very dynamic and efficient because the most flexible available technologies would be used to transmit data. "A combination of wireless, fiber optics, laser fiber, satellite transmission and others would be used and it would be mainly be based on the terrain we found ourselves", Mr. Baiden said. The telecommunication engineer said they are targeting a 99.9% quality in terms of service provision.
The principal of Marquis Financial Services and the financial adviser of One Dial, Mr. Auggie Palas said it is their aim to target the West African market, with its 250 million population. "In the spirit of NEPAD and the common market of the sub region, One Dial would expand gradually into the West African market".
He stated that the investment would benefit government in monitoring the activities of district assemblies and other related agencies as well as helping individuals to access telecommunication everywhere in the country.
The country director of the company, Ms Love Bello said their being in Ghana would create lots of opportunities in terms of employment, development of skills by Ghanaians and taxes to the nation and so the nation cannot afford to let this opportunity pass by.
She said their investment in the telecommunication industry is to facilitate communication between individuals, companies and countries to foster improved communication and commerce.