Ghana to review 2012 Broadband Policy

By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana

The Communication Ministry of Ghana will in early part of next year initiate a move to review the country’s existing Broadband Policy through a stakeholder’s forum. This was announced by the Minister of Communication, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful during the first ever Ghana Broadband Forum held in Accra.

The forum, which was organized by the Broadband Communications Chamber and attended by strategic broadband stakeholders in Ghana’s Communication industry, offered delegates the opportunity to dialogue on how to review and revise the country’s five year-old Broadband Policy to compliment the Digital Ghana Agenda.

The Minister said a review had become necessary because there are still certain areas in the country that have either been unserved or underserved.

“From the information I received 20% of our population are unserved or underserved. Can we continue to work with 80% and what quality of internet do the 80% also have? We need to work hard and we are determined to do our very best that the total transformation of this country which we think we can change through ICT will be achieved by the end of the first term of this NPP Administration,” she stressed.

She promised the government and her ministry’s commitments in partnering other public sector agencies and the private sector within the broadband space to enable the aim of getting the country fully covered with highly sophisticated broadband.

“Our industry is largely private sector led and so we can provide the enabling framework for you to succeed. Your success is our success and the success of our country,” the minister added.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful further expressed concern about the high cost of internet in the country and urged the service operators to reconsider some of their operational activities and opt for best practices such as infrastructure sharing which goes a long way to reduce cost for accessing the internet the consumer.

“We need to work on reducing the cost of accessing the internet. I have also been told that with the amount of fibre we have in the ground in this country, it can cover this country to it end seven times but because of duplication and multiple fibre network been site side by side by all the various MNO’s and IOC’s we have a lot of fibre in the ground but it only covering specific areas, we have to change that narrative and so we will actively encourage infrastructure sharing and if we have to do it by legislation we will. We cannot continue like this, we want the MNOs and IOCs to use the CAPEX and OPEX to provide access to the people who need it more and not provide the infrastructure which they can beat capacity on other network,’ she intimated.

Earlier on the Broadband Communications Chamber had made calls for the revision of the 2012 National Broadband Policy and Implementation Strategy since Ghana is losing out considering the UN Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development Report and the Government of Ghana’s strategy of rapid Broadband penetration and development particularly in underserved and unserved areas.

The CEO for the Chamber, Gustav Tamakloe, also expressed worry over recent statistics on Ghana’s internet penetration which according to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) stands at approximately 9.9 million representing 34.7% of about 29 million population and stressed the need for Ghana to either choose to continue to do nothing or emulate East African country Rwanda’s fine example by seizing the Broadband opportunity as a catalyst for Ghana’s sustainable socio-economic development.

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