1,010 rural telephony sites completed – Ursula Ekuful

A total of 1,010 rural telephony sites have been completed under the Ghana Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project to connect underserved and unserved communities, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has said.

The Communication Minister said the completed sites were part of 2,016 sites to be constructed to extend mobile network coverage to approximately four million residents of selected unserved and underserved communities to bridge the digital divide.

Speaking at the Ministry of Information’s press briefing, she said 618 out of the 1,010 sites had been operational, offering essential voice and data services to citizens in about 1,620 rural communities.

She said people in those communities could make calls, and use data services to enhance social and economic activities.

‘The Ministry will build the remaining 1,006 sites, integrate, and activate them all for voice and data services to ensure reliable, affordable, and secured broadband infrastructure this year,’ Mr Owusu-Ekuful said.

She said between 2017 and
2018, government in collaboration with the private sector oversaw the building and activation of 430 rural telephony sites and connecting ‘approximately 700,000 previously underserved and unserved Ghanaians in remote communities.’

The Minister said in promoting inclusivity and expanding the coverage, the government in 2020 secured a pound 155 million facility from the China EXIM Bank to start the Ghana Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project in partnership with Huawei and China National Technical Import and Export Corporation (CNTIC).

She said the Rural Telephony Project presented up to 70 per cent cost reduction compared to traditional masts, adding that it had made the project both economically and financially feasible and capable of generating a decent return on investment.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the project had facilitated remote learning, digital financial inclusion through mobile banking and mobile money, access to market information for farmers, and enabled small businesses to reach customers d
ue to the availability of mobile internet in small communities.

The Minister said prior to that intervention, basic healthcare delivery and education, among other critical services, presented a challenge, as health workers and teachers were reluctant to accept postings to certain communities due to the lack of connectivity.

So far, Ahafo, Ashanti, Bono, Bono East and Central Regions have 34, 153, 36, 49 and 92 built sites respectively.

The Eastern Region has 89, Greater Accra Region one, North East Region, 28, Northern Region, 58, whilst Oti and Savannah Regions have 58 and 50 sites respectively.

The rests, Upper East Region, has 44, Upper West Region, 77, Volta Region, 63, Western Region, 91, and Western North Region, 87.

Source: Ghana News Agency