Government to complete remaining 1,006 rural telephony sites by September – Ursula Owusu-Ekuful

The Government will, by September this year, complete the construction of 1,006 remaining rural telephony sites to extend voice and data connectivity to people in underserved and unserved communities across the country.

Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, who announced this at the 2024 World Telecommunications and Information Society Day ((WTISD), in Accra, on Friday, said already, 1,010 of these cell sites had already been completed, nationwide.

Government, in 2020 commenced the construction of the rural telephony sites under the Ghana Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion project, to construct over 2,000 cell sites across the country.

The goal was to extend voice and data connectivity to some four million people in underserved and unserved communities and to promote digital inclusion in the country.

In 2022, the Government announced that it had completed 1,008 of these sites across the country with an additional 560 sites expected to be completed by the end of the ye
ar, 2023.

Speaking at this year’s WTISD, Mrs Owusu-Ekuful assured that the remaining sites would be completed by September this year to extend connectivity to the remaining 20 per cent of the population who were currently not connected.

‘We’ve successfully done about half of it and we’re on course to complete the other half by September this year. We’re going to build 1,006 by September this year, having already done 1,010,’ she said.

She added: ‘This will ensure that about 20 per cent of our population that are currently unconnected would also get the opportunity to benefit from the digital innovations introduced in the public space and to ensure there’s sustainability, enhanced connectivity across networks.’

The WTISD is to help raise awareness of the benefits citizens and economies could derive from the use of the internet and communication technologies (ICT) to bridge the digital divide.

The theme for this year is: ‘Digital Innovation for Sustainable Development.’

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said since assumin
g office in 2017, the Government had been steadfast in fostering a culture that embraced innovation, adaptability, and continuous evolution.

She said, that over the past seven years, it had implemented numerous projects to promote digitalisation and bridge the digital inclusion gap, stressing that Ghana was on course to becoming an ICT hub in the West African sub-region.

For instance, to enhance connectivity across networks, the Minister said, the Government was implementing a national roaming policy to ensure that consumers benefited from strong and seamless internet connectivity.

‘We’re hopeful that that will also enable us to bridge some of the connectivity gaps that we have in the country,’ she added.

On citizens’ empowerment, the Minister said the Government had undertaken several initiatives to foster citizens’ competencies, capabilities, and skills to use digital technology.

‘We’ve done a lot to ensure that women use older persons, persons with and without disabilities and people living in both th
e urban and rural areas have the necessary skills to leverage and use digital innovations,’ she touted.

Additionally, she said, ‘We’re working hard to implement initiatives and programmes that address the Sustainable Development Goal 17, which calls for innovation through digitalisation.’

Dr Joe Anokye, Director-General of the National Communications Authority, disclosed that repair works on all subsea cables which got damaged recently had been completed.

Ghana on March 14 this year experienced disruption in data services because of undersea cable outages.

All four subsea cable landing service providers in Ghana (ACR, MainOne, SAT-3 and WACS) were completely cut off from international data services.

Giving an update on the situation at the WTISD, Dr Anokye said repair works on the damaged cables had been completed and internet services fully restored.

‘Repair works on SAT-3 cable was completed on 6th April 2024; the ACE cable was repaired on 17th April 2024; the WACS cable was repaired on 29th April 202
4 and the MainOne cable repairs were completed on May 8, 2024,’ he stated.

Source: Ghana News Agency