Ghana’s mobile ‘miracle’

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

The Chief Executive Officer of MTN Ghana, Michael Ikpoki, has described the mobile revolution in Ghana as a ‘Mobile Miracle’, noting that subscribers are placing less emphasis on the mobile device, and more emphasis on connectivity, capabilities and experience offered.

Ikpoki was speaking at a telecom round table discussion forum held in Accra as part of the Africa Investment Forum 2012.

Discussing Telecom Sector Development: Innovations to widen market access and generate capacity (A study on MTN Ghana), the MTN Ghana CEO disclosed that uptake of 3G compatible devices, including smart phones grew from 210 in 2008 to approximately 803K by the end of 2011 on MTN alone, while tablet PCs witnessed a significant rise to 6,213 by the end of 2011.

He noted that the Telecom industry in Ghana has been a key driver of Ghana’s economic growth, directly accounting in 2010 for 7% of investments in Ghana, 10% of Government income and 2% of GDP.

In the years 2000 to 2010, an amount of USD 1.13 trillion was invested into Ghana’s telecommunication industry infrastructure, according to the World Bank’s report, and this development is responsible for the creation of about 1.5 million jobs across the country.

Ikpoki said MTN Ghana was leading the way in improving coverage in Ghana, investing GH.C 1.2 billion in network infrastructure, putting up sophisticated national IP/MPLS network, establishing of 3,342 BTS and five switch centres and world class data centres with unlimited backhaul capacity 4302G and 125 3G BTS which was rolled out in 2011. He also highlighted the landing of 14,000km WACS cable commercialization on the shores of Accra this year.

Although the industry is experiencing tremendous growth and development at high rate, it is also plagued with huge challenges, said Ikpoki.

These included:

  • Entrenched position and posturing by key stakeholders, exacerbated by a perception of the industry as a ‘cash cow’
  • Pressure from increased taxation and leveies  e.g Arbitrary MMDA fees
  • Increasing utility rates not matched by service improvement - current levels of availability lower than specified by the utility companies; direct impact on OPEX and service delivery
  • Permitting delays and community activism against telecoms infrastructure and
  • Exogenous disruption to networks infrastructure, such as frequent fibre cuts contributing to QoS problems.
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