Deputy Minister of Communication, Vickie Lakshmi Hamah has called on the Ghana Maritime Authority to protect the several submarine fibre optic cables that have been landed on the shores of Ghana to provide better telecom and internet service nationwide.
She made the call at the launch of the newly landed ACE (Africa Coast to Europe) submarine cable, which was brought in country by Expresso-Dolphin, to be managed by Expresso Ghana.
The US$700million 17,000km-long cable is owned by connects 23 countries and it is owned by a consortium of 19 companies, including Expresso-Dolphin, a partnership of the Expresso Group and Dolphin International.
ACE comes to Ghana with 5.12terabits/second capacity, to add to the country’s current huge fibre capacity of 7.2terabits/sec from the MTN’s WACS, Globacom’s Glo One, Vodafone’s SAT-3 and the independently-owned Main One.
Vickie Hamah noted that the additional fibre capacity promises to improve internet accessibility and quality across country, and create huge business opportunities, but vandalism and theft of submarine cables at sea could be a threat to the expected benefits.
“I therefore wish to add my voice to the call for the Maritime Authority to protect the investment made into acquiring and bringing these submarine cables to Ghana to ensure that the country derives full benefits from them,” she said.
She urged the Maritime Authority to involve the various fishing communities in education programs to the fisher folk would understand the importance of protecting rather than engaging in maritime practices that would damage the submarine cables.
The Deputy Minister noted that the first phase of the e-government project has been completed on the back of fibre optics infrastructure installed inland to provide connectivity between all state institutions and agencies; and work is also ongoing on the National Fibre Optic Backbone to provide internet access to the remote parts of the country.
Vickie Hamah said other aspects of the e-government project such as e-Justice, e-Parliament, e-Service, e-Health, e-Education and others are expected to come on stream in the remaining phases of the project, adding that huge fibre capacity available to the country would boost the availability and effectiveness of all these platforms aside boosting private business.
“I am happy to report that the Ghana Internet Service Providers Association has informed government that 45% of the internet traffic is currently handled locally through the system internet exchange point,” she said.
She is hopeful that this could get better going forward, but critical to that better future is the need to protect the “gargantuan” investment made in the submarine cables through improved maritime security.
Managing Director of Expresso, El Amir Ahmed El Amir is confident the ACE cable would help to improve telecoms and data service in the country in terms of the diversity of routes, quality of service and even price to the consumer.
He noted that there is an expected data consumption boom in West Africa over the next three to five years and the huge bandwidth capacity in Ghana now, places the country in a very advantageous position to take full advantage of the boom.
Deputy Director General of National Communication Authority (NCA), Albert Eninful observed the need for more affordable smartphones like the new Nokia Asha 501 and Huawei’s 4Afrika Ascend W1 to come to Ghana so most Ghanaians can have access to the internet through mobile broadband.