The Ghana Government, in collaboration with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and Alcatel-Lucent, is facilitating the development of a fibre optic backbone infrastructure on the country’s Eastern Corridor to support the deployment of the national e-Government Network.
The project, stretching nearly 600 kilometres from Ho in the Volta region to Bawku in the Upper East region, will be linked to the existing network in other parts of the country and facilitate network access to 27 District and Municipal Assemblies and surrounding communities.
The project, which will be designed and implemented by Alcatel-Lucent, will include a Data Centre and a Managed Services component. It is being funded by the Government of Denmark at a cost of USD38 million.
Speaking at a ground-breaking ceremony for the commencement of the project in Ho, the Volta regional capital, the Minister for Communications, Hon. Haruna Iddrisu, reiterated the government’s commitment to deploying IT infrastructure for accelerated economic and social development.
He said that ICT was no longer a luxury, but a necessity which held the key to economic and social transformation.
The Eastern Corridor project, he said, was expected to improve call quality and call congestion, and, therefore, stimulate more economic activities, generate employment opportunities and enhance the delivery of government services in a more timely and efficient manner.
The Minister urged all stakeholders, especially the implementing contractor, Alcatel-Lucent, and the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), the ICT policy arm of the Ministry of Communications, to work hard to complete the project in the one-year project implementation period.
He also called on Regional Ministers, Municipal and District Assemblies as well as the communities that would benefit directly from the project to provide the required support to ensure that the project was successfully implemented.
He pledged to collaborate with the Minister for Roads and Highways to ensure that issues of right of way were handled with dispatch while ensuring that environmental regulations were strictly adhered to.
In a statement, the Director-General of NITA, William Tevie, noted that by delivering a new network and data centre, Alcatel-Lucent would help streamline government processes between central and rural divisions and provide a consistent external view, adding that it was an important step towards the realisation of the vision of giving Ghanaians access to a range of critical services and how and when they needed them.
The Danish Minister for Development, Christian Friis Bach, was pleased that Denmark and Danish technical solutions were contributing to Ghana’s economic development, as the project would strengthen democracy and increase transparency, accountability and empowerment.
Daniel Jaeger, Vice President of Alcatel-Lucent, gave the assurance that the project would be successfully implemented to help improve the services available to Ghanaians.
In November 2008, the Government of Ghana approved a USD30 million Chinese Government loan facility for the construction of the initial phase of a nationwide e-Government infrastructure of Ghana.
However, the National Fibre Optic Network that currently supports the e-Government Network is without the Eastern Corridor, hence the need for government to invest in this area and build more resilience into the Fibre Backbone and expand e-Government Network to the entire country.
Minister Iddrisu also inaugurated a Based Transmission Station, a rural telephony system, at Botoku, a rural community in the South Danyi District of the Volta region.
The facility was a private initiative by K-NET Limited, a leader in Communication and networking industry, in partnership with the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEX).
He disclosed that substantial resources had been committed by government under the Universal Access Fund to facilitate internet access in areas which network operators did not find profitable to operate.
He said so far, 10 communities including Botoku had benefitted from the facility while 20 other communities would receive telephone and internet connectivity before the end of the year.
This, he said, would enhance healthcare delivery and facilitate research for educational purposes, among other benefits.