Author: Samuel Nii Dowuona

Techfocus24 can confirm that the recent initiative by the sitting government to establish a shared digital public infrastructure (DPI) for the accelerated rollout of 4G and 5G networks across the country is not different from what the National Democratic Congress (NDC) promised in section 8.6, page 98 of their 2020 Manifesto.

Per the government initiative, it is partnering with seven local and foreign private sector industry players to establish one 4G and 5G work, where individual industry players can yet access and accelerate the rollout of 4G and 5G networks across the country.

The seven private sector partners, together with the government, have established a special purpose vehicle (SPV) called Next-Gen Infrastructure Company (NGIC) to lead the establishment of the nationwide 5G network within a matter of six months.

The private partners are Nokia, Tech Mahindra, Radisys, K-NET, Ascend Digital, AT Ghana and Telecel Ghana. Telecoms market leader, MTN Ghana is also expected to come on board soon.

Historically, when a sitting government embarks on a particularly policy, one can bet on a new government abandoning the entire policy and going on another path that end up costing the state even more money.

So as the sitting NPP government has elected to license a single entity to roll out a shared 4G/5G network, some interested parties would expect that an NDC government will come and quash the whole policy and replace it with something totally different.

In the interest of the public purse and the concerted progress of the entire telecoms industry, Techfocus24 has been perusing the NDC’s 2020 manifesto to see what they promised in terms of how to roll out 5G in Ghana.

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Per Section 8.6 of the NDC 2020 Manifesto, labelled “PROMOTING SMART BUSINESS, SMART GOVERNMENT SERVICE AND DIGITAL INFRASTRUCTURE” on page 98, the party said that “Under the NDC and John Dramani Mahama, Ghana has a historic chance to transition into a fully digitised, cash lite and advanced economy.”

As such the party promised to do the following in subsections (b), (l) and (n) of the manifesto, saying “We will:

(b) make it our sacred mission to lead Ghana and Africa into this new world, as 5G
technology beckons

(l) commence the building of National Information Highway (Ghana Broadband Network) which utilises 5G and fibre optic technologies to promote the use of the internet through public-private partnerships.

(n) move to an affordable universal licensing regime, including 5G, that allows flexibility for Telecom companies to tap into revolutionary technologies
Clearly, from subsection 8.6

(l) above, the NDC had plans to establish a public-private partnership for the rollout of 5G networks among other things, just like this government has done with the establishment of the NextGen Infrastructure Company (NGIC) to lead the rollout of 4G and 5G in Ghana.

Again, per subsection 8.6(b), there were plans to use Ghana as a springboard to enter the rest of Africa with 5G, similar to what this government announced, that NGIC will be rolling out into the rest of Africa over time.

In establishing the shared infrastructure, the sitting government particularly mentioned that affordability of spectrum/access for service providers was critical, unlike previously when spectrum was auctioned to the highest bidders.

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And in subsection 8.6(n) of the NDC’s 2020 manifesto, the issue of affordable universal license was addressed.

It would be recalled that ahead of establishing the NGIC, government had already implemented a technology neutrality regime, which is an offshoot of a universal licensing policy that allows industry players to re-farm existing spectrum to roll out higher technologies like 4G and 5G.

One other critical reason why this policy is very likely to enjoy support from an NDC government is because the over US$100 million licensing fee is not been demanded upfront by the sitting government. It will be paid in instalments over a ten-year period.

This means that subsequent governments from 2025 will have the benefit of that inflow for national development.

So, Techfocus24 gathered from very reliable sources that the NDC as a part is in full support of the shared infrastructure regime for the rollout of 4G/5G across the country, and therefore this is one policy that the party will not abandon if they come to power in 2024.

This is important for the country’s progress, so that the syndrome of every new government having to abandon every policy of the previous government will be a thing of the past, particularly when the policy in question is a progressive one.

AMA GHANA is not responsible for the reportage or opinions of contributors published on the website.


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