If you have ever wondered when public WiFi was going to launch in Ghana, the answer is NOW. Skyfi has now launched in Ghana and will allow people to access WiFi at selected places even when they are in town. It was launched today at the Accra Technical University. The launch was graced by the presence of the current Communication Minister Hon Dr Edward Omane Boamah. It also saw the presence of Hon ET Mensah (Governing Council Chairman – Accra Technical University) and the acting Vice Chancellor of the University among other dignitaries.
The National Information Technology Agency (NITA) has, as part of its mandate, the responsibility to deploy IT/Telecom Infrastructure to support the eGovernment initiative of the government of Ghana. In delivery of this mandate, NITA, over the past five years has deployed infrastructure worth over USD 300 million. These include Data Centers, Fiber Optic Network Infrastructure, Long Term Evolution (LTE Network), Microwave network etc. These currently form the core of the infrastructure supporting the majority of government applications being deployed as part of the eGovernment Policy to improve productivity, efficiency, transparency and accountability within the public sector.
NITA’s primary focus is to provide government agencies with cutting edge IT solutions and applications to accelerate the growth of the use of ICT in Ghana. It is one of NITA’s policy directives to commercialize excess capacity of its infrastructure to ensure its sustainability (operations and maintenance) and to generate additional income streams to repay loans raised by the government on its behalf as assistance in deploying these infrastructure.
The commercialization policy identifies Public Wi-Fi, among others, as a critical area to explore.
Africa is seen as the second fastest growing continent in the world at the moment. The Internet is expected to play a pivotal role in the achievement of its potential. Research shows that if the infrastructural investment should continue at the current pace, then the internet has the potential to add about $300bn a year to Africa’s GDP.
Ghana is identified as one such market to contribute to that growth. Evidence of this is seen in the major cities where consumers have greater disposable income, more than half have internet- capable devices and 3G networks that are up and running. Significant infrastructure investment such as increased access to mobile broadband, fibre-optic cable connections to households and power-supply expansion coupled with the rapid spread of low cost smart phones and tablets, has enabled many Ghanaians to connect for the first time. This coupled with the growing popularity of social media has created a broad viable market for the introduction of an affordable, accessible and effective public Wi-Fi system to ensure we stay connected to advance communication and development.
“The internet offers a lot of opportunities for growth to a developing economy like Ghana” says E-Connecta, the partner and operator of SkyFi. They added, “the Internet has already improved development by making communication more efficient in Africa”.
Research has also shown the Internet having the potential to generate jobs. There is a growing wave of innovation as entrepreneurs and large corporations alike launch new web-based ventures.
The opportunities and improvements that the Internet offers with respect to education, health, agriculture, retail and government can also not be overemphasized. The agencies in charge of these areas should therefore be well placed to take advantage of the opportunities the Internet presents to advance their objectives.
E-Connecta therefore saw the opportunity with NITA (Government of Ghana) as a huge step to a plan they have been nurturing for years. We hope to offer high speed Wi-Fi services with an integrated payment system (mobile money, card payment etc) to ensure access to all.
The SkyFi Wi-Fi services launched today in Accra. This is Phase 1 and covers the following areas;
- Accra Technical University
- Tema Lorry Station
- Burma Camp
- University of Professional Studies
- 37 Military Hospital and Lorry Station University of Development Studies (Tamale) University of Allied Health Studies
Phase II of the Skyfi Wi-Fi service will extend its coverage to other parts of the country with an increased focus on tertiary institutions. At the centre of what Skyfi offers is convenience. This means, once you join the Skyfi family in one location, you are automatically enrolled in all Skyfi enabled locations. Your single login credentials will connect you anywhere Skyfi is available. We commend the government on such an initiative and we hope to see more of such mutually beneficial partnerships in the future to advance Ghana’s economic development.