• Government Initiatives Driving the Growth of Cloud Computing in Ghana




    ICT Infrastructure

    Ghana’s ICT has undergone significant transformation over the past decade, with substantial investments in broadband infrastructure by mobile operators. Among African countries, Ghana’s telecommunications sector had the highest investment-to-revenue ratio between 2009 and 2010, as operators invested relatively heavily in fixed assets in order to maintain and enhance networks. The staggered investments into ICT infrastructure, across the past few years, have translated into increasing mobile telephone and data subscriptions.

    According to a recent report by the International Telecommunications Union (“ITU”), the UN’s ICT development agency, Ghana has the highest mobile broadband penetration in Africa.

    As at October 2014, the country’s total telephone subscriptions stood at 29 million; nearly 111.2% teledensity, which correlates strongly with the increasing purchasing power of Ghana’s burgeoning middle class. NCA data from May 2015 shows a mobile voice subscriber base of 31.96 million; 1.2 times the country’s population of 26.33 million. Mobile data subscription figures for the same period are upwards of 17 million, while the mobile voice subscriber base came in at 31.96 million. Fixed broadband penetration, however, has remained marginally low. 

    According to the ITU’s Measuring Information Society Report released in the last quarter of 2012, mobile broadband penetration surged from 7% in 2010 to 23% in 2011. The study observed that 14% of Ghanaians were internet users (up from 10% in 2010).


    Pricing

    Ghana’s mobile broadband prices are also relatively low. At 14% of Gross National Income (“GNI”) per person, this is 4.5 times lower than the African average, which stands at 64% of GNI per person.


    Internet Usage
    The relatively low prices have spurred on internet usage. According to Internet World Statistics (“IWS”), there were 5.17 million internet users as at December 2014 (approximately 19.6% of the population). According to the ITU, Ghana had 1.3 million internet users as at June 2010, which translates to a penetration rate of 5.3%, up from 4.2% in 2009, 3.8% in 2008, 1.8% in 2006 and just 0.2% in 2000 (30,000 users). The 2010 penetration rate is among the highest in the sub-Saharan region.

    Government Constructing a Data Center

    Massive improvements in storage, processing and transmission capacity have paved the way for Ghana’s cloud economy. As part of Ghana’s national policy to make information resources widely available and accessible to all, the Government of Ghana, through the Ministry of Communication is constructing the National Data Centre infrastructure to facilitate the consolidation and aggregation of all key computing infrastructure in secure, highly available and resilient facilities.

    The data centre would comprise a primary data center in Accra with over 500 rack space, which is expected to be the largest in West Africa, and will provide services such as web hosting, cloud infrastructure as a service solutions, and dedicated servers to all interested stakeholders.

    The USD 138 million National Data Centre infrastructure will consist of a primary data centre in Accra and a secondary, fully replicated facility in the interior of the country. These facilities will be supported by a Network Operating Centre to provide monitoring and control over all applications and network services originating in the data centre infrastructure, a security operating centre to serve as the nucleus of the MDA’s intranet and internet security, operations, and several storage area networks which will provide for the storage needs of all the MDAs that will be hosted in the data centre.

    The secondary data center is located on the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology campus in Kumasi, has been completed (according to Ghana’s Minister of Communications in a recent press release), and will provide services such as web hosting and cloud infrastructure as a service solution.


    Bandwidth

    Ghana’s access to international bandwidth has also increased significantly since the start of the decade due largely to liberalization and increased competition. Between 2010 and 2013, four fiber optic submarine cables were landed in Ghana, increasing the amount of international bandwidth from 320 Gigabytes to over 12 Terabytes. The arrival of the Main One, Glo-1, WACS and ACE cables unleashed significant competition for international bandwidth and a dramatic fall in the wholesale cost of capacity. Today, the cost of an E1 connection in Ghana is around USD 1,200, down from as much as USD 12,000 in 2006.


    Increasing Broadband Penetration

    The recent inauguration of the Eastern Corridor Fibre Optic Backbone Infrastructure project has the potential to improve connectivity in Ghana, leading to an increase in broadband penetration. The USD 38 million project, funded by the government of Denmark, 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, national security, among others.

    The project, which stretches nearly 800 kilometers from Ho in the Volta Region to Bawku in the Upper East Region, is linked to the existing network in other parts of the country and facilitates network access to 20 district and municipal assemblies and 120 communities. Designed and implemented by Alcatel-Lucent, the project included the construction of a data centre and a managed service component to ensure the security of data on the entire network.
      


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