The Minister of Communication, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has disclosed that government has decided to leverage on the power lines infrastructure to extend telecommunication access.
She made this known at the World Bank’s Digital Economy for Africa forum in Washington DC.
Owusu-Ekuful said “we can use aerial fibre to deliver access to (internet) services quickly to people around the country.”
This purpose prompted the decision to use the fibre over the power lines.
“We have untapped resource available over the power lines and we think by leveraging that, we can quickly scale-up our rate of roll-out and make it possible for infrastructure sharing to take place and for the telecom companies to utilize their resources and their capital expenditure (CAPEX) on the last-mile connectivity instead of investing significant form of capital in laying fibre underground,” she said.
With the current use of fibre optics in the industry, there seems to be a lot of duplication in the country, most of which are mainly in commercially viable areas.
In 2015, government commissioned an 800km Eastern Corridor fibre optic backbone, which runs through 20 districts and over 120 towns and communities in the country.
Telecom companies, including market leader MTN, have undertaken and continue to invest in fibre optic network around the country.
“However, there are still significant pockets of the country without access to connectivity,” Owusu-Ekuful noted.
For this reason government has taken the decision to use the universal service and access fund (USAF) in partnership with the private sector, to deliver the infrastructure that would be open access and the other telecom companies can also lease capacity on, to deliver services to the people.
This fund was setup to subsidise the cost of extending ICT services, information and communication, to difficult-to-reach rural and remote areas.
The establishment of USAFs is considered global best practice.
She indicated the need to encourage telecom companies not to invest their CAPEX in laying fibre, but to use the existing capacities which already exist and to work in partnership with others.
This would ensure building on infrastructure that exist.
“We think if we do that we can, within the next two years, cover the entire country,” she added.
This is expected to reduce the cost of delivery on essential telecom services.
That will also drive down the cost of accessing telecom services, which is the greatest inhibiting factor towards unleashing the creative potential of young people, she noted.
By Joshua W. Amlanu