Ghana’s National Broadband Policy loses relevance

There is a need to review policies that are currently governing the broadband industry in Ghana because such have lost relevance in the scheme of things as the existing 2012 National Broadband Policy and Implementation Strategy and the telecoms policy in general do not conform to the current state of the industry.

According to the Broadband Communications Chamber (BCC), whose membership comprises Surfline, Blu and Broadband Home, K-Net and MainOne Cable the broadband policy, for instance, does not capture Broadband Wireless Access (BWA) operations, Wireless Applications Services and other key emerging technologies, and does not also address the issue of consolidation, which has started happening in the industry.

“The broadband policy does not even mention 4G LTE and yet that technology is here and the world is already moving on to 5G,” they stated.

These concerns were raised when the chamber, led by its Chairman, Dr. Yaw Akoto and Chief Executive, Gustav Tamakloe called on the Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful to notify her about developments in the sector, among others.

The telecom operators also pointed out that the key targets in the telecoms policy have long been met and so the policy has long become irrelevant. They mentioned the voice and data subscriber base targets for instance, which were met years before the deadline.

They highlighted the necessity for a complete overhaul of the policies, and it’s consolidation into one unified policy in pursuit of the government’s one national ICT policy agenda.

Tamakloe, noted for instance that the policy must state clearly how to measure and report on the country’s broadband status because that is good for investor decisions.

He said the consolidation and alliance within the industry is the way to go, as such, the industry players are willing to tow that direction but the policies and regulatory framework do not exist for that to happen smoothly.

“That is one key area we will be looking at in our series of broadband forums,” he stated.

Tamakloe said the annual broadband forum would primarily engage industry players including policy makers, regulators, operators, content providers, consultants and other stakeholders in frank discussions about what direction the country’s ICT development should be going.

“We believe the focus should be on how to strengthen and mainstream local players because they are more likely to develop country-specific services and initiatives that will propel the country to achieve its development goals,” he added.

He said the chamber would also be focusing on challenging the young content makers through app and ICT product/service development competition that would afford participants the opportunity to popularize their apps through the platforms of all BCC member organizations.

The minister in her remarks asked the chamber to initiate public discussions on how to revamp the Ghana’s five-year-old broadband policy to give proper direction to the digital Ghana agenda. She asked them to start regular industry forums that will generate the needed insights for the review of the national policy to serve as a relevant guide for the digital agenda.

The minister also pointed out her vision to spread broadband connectivity nationwide, particularly to some major tourist destinations in deprived communities.

According to her, part of the process has begun with the authorization of telcos to use their 900MHz 2G spectrum already in the unserved and underserved areas, to deploy 3G technology and provide data services in those areas.

She assured the Chamber of her commitment to ensure that the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) is applied to drive widespread broadband connectivity and to ensure no one is left out of the national digitization process.

Source: Fred Sarpong || Businessweek

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