US$195m needed for Rural Telephony Project

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications

Towards achieving universal access to ICT throughout the country, government is targeting to raise an amount of US$ 195million under the Rural Telephony Project, in order to cover all unserved and underserved communities by 2020.

Currently, the Ministry of Communication is in discussions with the Minister for Finance to raise the financing for the project, as Cabinet has already given approval for this project.

This year, 400 rural telephony sites (Cell Sites) have been built under the project, costing US$50,000 each.

These cell sites have so far provided voice and data connectivity coverage for 2,000 communities with  populations averaging 900,000 each. Already,some telecommunication companies have started using the technology, Rural Star Technology.

Speaking at the Meet the Press event,on Thursday in Accra, the Administrator of the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication(GIFEC), Abraham Kofi Asante said, “with the innovation of rural sites we have a reduction of 70 percent of total cost of ownership.”

Once funding is secured, the project will be launch officially by mid-2019, with the completion expected by the end of 2020.

The project is being rolled out in collaboration with Huawei and MTN.

The Minister for Communication, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said, “with the rapid growth of digital services such as e-commerce, e-education, Fintech,Mobile Money and e-transactions coupled with the introduction of various Government e-services, the RTP project is expected to narrow the digital gap in the country.”

The Telephony Project seeks to extend the coverage of mobile telephone services as far as possible into all areas of the country where access to such services are not adequately available, and where existing licensed operators have proven unwilling or unable to expand their networks, due to commercial or other constraints.

By Joshua W. Amlanu