Government’s quest to develop Information Communication Technology, ICT to cover the entire nation moved a step forward last week after cabinet’s approval of the Eastern Corridor broadband infrastructure project to be financed and constructed by the Alcatel-Lucent which will provide Ghana with the opportunity to extend optic fibre along the routes from Ho in the Volta Region to Bawku in the Upper East region, commences.
The Ghana government, in collaboration with the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and Alcatel-Lucent, is facilitating the development of the Fibre Optic Backbone Infrastructure on the country’s Eastern Corridor which will also support the deployment of the national e-Government Network that seeks to connect all government agencies on one platform.
The Eastern Corridor Project, stretching 600 kilometres from Ho in the Volta region to Bawku in the Upper East region, will be linked to the existing network in other parts of the country and facilitate network access to 27 District and Municipal Assemblies and surrounding communities.
The project will be designed and implemented by Alcatel-Lucent a leading innovator in the field of networking and communications technology, products and services with the construction of a Data Centre and a Managed Services component, to ensure the security of data on the entire network being funded by the Government of Denmark at a cost of US$38 million.
The Fibre Optic Backbone Infrastructure is expected to bridge the digital divide between urban and rural communities and promote Information and Communication Technology (ICT) applications to support education, health delivery, e-government business development, agriculture development and national security, among others.
Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony for the commencement of the project in Ho, the Volta regional capital, minister for Communications, Haruna Iddrisu, reiterated government’s commitment to deploying IT infrastructure for accelerated economic and social development.
The Eastern Corridor project, he said, was expected to improve call quality and call congestion, and, therefore, stimulate more economic activities, generate employment opportunities and enhance the delivery of government services in a more timely and efficient manner.
Iddrisu urged all stakeholders, especially the implementing contractor, Alcatel-Lucent, and the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), the ICT policy arm of the Ministry of Communications, to work hard to complete the project in the one-year project implementation period.
He also called on Regional Ministers, Municipal and District Assemblies as well as the communities that would benefit directly from the project to provide the required support to ensure that the project was successfully implemented.
He pledged to collaborate with the Minister for Roads and Highways to ensure that issues of right of way were handled with dispatch while ensuring that environmental regulations were strictly adhered to.
In a statement, the Director-General of NITA, William Tevie, noted that by delivering a new network and data centre, Alcatel-Lucent would help streamline government processes between central and rural divisions and provide a consistent external view, adding that it was an important step towards the realisation of the vision of giving Ghanaians access to a range of critical services and how and when they needed them.
The Danish Minister for Development, Christian Friis Bach, was pleased that Denmark and Danish technical solutions were contributing to Ghana’s economic development, as the project would strengthen democracy and increase transparency, accountability and empowerment.
In November 2008, the Government of Ghana approved a US$30 million Chinese Government loan facility for the construction of the initial phase of a nationwide e-Government infrastructure of Ghana.
However, the National Fibre Optic Network that currently supports the e-Government Network is without the Eastern Corridor, hence the need for government to invest in this area and build more resilience into the Fibre Backbone and expand e-Government Network to the entire country.