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Business News of Friday, 28 November 2003

Source: GNA

Digital Exchange Commissioned In Sekondi

Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister for Communication and Technology, yesterday stressed the need for massive private sector participation in Telecom service delivery to complement government's policy efforts. He was commissioning a new 2,000 Line Digital Telephone Exchange for the Ghana Telecom (GT) in Sekondi.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said, this is the reason why government has facilitated a credit facility from Alcatel Shanghai to GT to enable GT to acquire the requisite equipment for the expansion of its networks. He said "without massive private sector capital injection we will not be able to move the current national telecommunications penetration rate of 4 percent to 8 percent by 2005."

Mr Kan-Dapaah said the Sekondi Exchange Expansion Project comprising the installation of the Alcatel remote Switch, the Customer Access Network and the Transmission Network, cost GT 846,764 dollars. He said the exchange is expandable to 4,000 lines and would serve Sekondi, Bakakyir, Adiembra, Essaman, Ekuasi, Essikado, Ngyeresia and Essipon and its environs.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said for the "Golden Age of Business" to succeed, there is the need, not just for the introduction of sound economic policies but also for the radical transformation of the telecommunications landscape to promote universal access to information and knowledge. He said it is as result of the desire to expand and upgrade the current telecommunications infrastructure and also ensure the success of its ICT programme, that the government entered into an agreement with Telenor Management Partners (TMP) of Norway as management of GT.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said under this agreement, TMP is expected to manage GT to provide 750,000 cellular and fixed telephone lines within the next two to three years, to cover regional and district capitals, Internet connectivity to SSS and Teacher Training Institutions, high speed data transmission capacity servicing public and private customers, demanding such services. He said TMP is also expected under the agreement, to introduce system and procedures of fraud detection and prevention.

Mr Kan-Dapaah expressed optimism that the commercial and mining centers in the Western Region such as Bogoso, Bibiani, Prestea and Sefwi Wiawso where GT currently has no network, will surely have telephone coverage by the end of the expansion programme. He said to facilitate rapid deployment of telephone connectivity, the Ministries of Communications and Energy are studying the possibility of establishing a national optical backbone network using optical fibre network embedded on the Volta River Authority (VRA) High Tension line.

The backbone network would provide GT and other operators with adequate transmission media to meet their short and long-term demands.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said he is reliably informed that the GT would soon deploy 600 new payphones to the Western Region to beef up the existing ones installed in the region. He said work on the 5,000 line capacity Elubo telephone network expansion project would commence before the end of the year.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said 2,000 out of the 5,000 lines would be connected to Half Assini while the remaining 3,000 lines would serve Elubo and its surrounding areas.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah, Attorney General and Minister for Justice and Member of Parliament for Sekondi, said the exchange has not seen any expansion since it was established in the 1960's. He urged the GT to consider expanding the exchange within the next five years.

Papa Owusu-Ankomah said many businesses have left the area because of poor telecommunication facilities and hoped such businesses including data process enterprises would return to increase commercial activities. He called on the GT to provide telephone facilities to individuals and companies who urgently require them and to extend its services to suburbs of Sekondi. He also advised those who benefit from such services to pay their bills promptly.

Mr Joseph Boahen Aidoo, Western Regional Minister, commended the GT for taking steps to improve its ONE Touch GSM reception in Sekondi-Takoradi municipality especially after the commissioning of its Anaji and Apremdo GSM cell sites and also for streamlining its fault management procedure. He urged the GT to expand the exchange to enable the company to serve the industrial free zone area and residents of Kojokrom as well as the axis from Apowa to Agona Nkwanta.