Ghana’s latest telecoms operator, Glomobile Ghana Limited, owned by Globacom, Friday took a major step it says will totally revolutionize telecommunications in the country and usher in real industry competition with the official launch of the high-capacity submarine fibre-optic cable system, Glo 1.
With the launch of Glo 1, which pipes through 14 African countries and connects continent to the rest of the world, Globacom is promising unprecedented internet connectivity and data transfer speed, plus a myriad of business opportunities.
The launching, an elaborate two-tier showpiece – first with the media at the Holiday Inn Hotel and then with the corporate world at the Banquet Hall of the State House, turns out a huge relief from a long wait and a fitting closure to the often repeated question of when Glo was rolling out after securing its license and completing initial set-ups.
In the words of Communications Minister, Haruna Iddrisu, who welcomed the Glo 1 launch with a “mixed feeling” because the expectation of the people of Ghana is the launch of Glo’s voice mobile telephony, “we cannot wait any longer to see Globacom launch fully as part of Ghana’s six licensed communication entities for our country in order to expand access to voice telephony”.
Haruna Iddrisu observed that Ghana has made giant and tremendous strides in the area of telecommunications and that “even the socialist among us will agree that when we say that liberalization has no dividend, we certainly cannot say so for the telecoms sector. We are today reaping [from] the foundations that were laid for a liberalized regime of the telecoms sector and allowing the private sector to take its pride of place.
“Mine will be to commend Globacom Limited, at least the launch of Glo 1 today in my conception, is West Africa’s Indigenous response to the need for global connectivity and this is the first time that we are having such a major investment come from an African, meant for an African, and connecting with the rest of the world and you deserve our commendation.”
He appealed to Globacom to reserve some of their additional value added services-related businesses for Ghanaians, “whether in the area of the printing of scratch cards, whether in the area of security, whether in the area of providing diesel or manning cell sites,” he said, “we will be happy that it generates some additional business for the Ghanaian people and that is how we can share in their entry to the market.”
Haruna expressed hope that Globacom’s entry will in the near future engender a situation where Ghanaians will be afforded free calls at the weekends rather than being reduced to keep vigil at midnight in order to enjoy some of the added benefits.
Vice President John Mahama, special guest, predicted that in the not too distant future, the capacity of bandwidth available to a country will determine its status of development rather than GDP.
He therefore welcomed the increase in bandwidth availability in Ghana with the arrival of Glo and its launch of the backbone infrastructure and services, which he said will deepen competition and provide alternative choices, comparable pricing and improved quality of service for the benefit of Ghana’s communication sector.
“It will be common in future to be asked not of the size of the GDP of your country but of the size of bandwidth that is available in your country,” he said, emphasizing the determination of the government to develop ICT infrastructure that will provide abundant capacity to carry high speed voice, video and internet facilities to all districts of Ghana.
“I say this because towards the end of 2008, the uptake of broadband in Ghana stood at one percent which was extremely low and inadequate for meaningful development. With the arrival of Glo 1 and other submarine cables the total bandwidth capacity of 2,040 gigabytes will be available to Ghana… It is therefore expected that the increase in bandwidth capacity will be more than adequate to meet the increasing demand for communication services, promote and support business process outsourcing industry in Ghana by creating jobs and revenues to government while exerting a downward pressure on prices as a result of increased competition.”