NEGOTIATING THE NET – THE GHANA CASE

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NEGOTIATING THE NET – THE GHANA CASE Powered By Docstoc
					                 -NEGOTIATING THE NET – THE GHANA CASE
                    By William Foster and Eric M.K Osiakwan
Introduction

Between 1994 and 2004, Ghana’s moved from a government controlled Post, Telephone,
and Telegraph (PTT) which had a virtual monopoly on telecommunications to an
environment where the there was a robust Internet Service Provider (ISP) industry that
was actively challenging the former PTT, Ghana Telecom. It order to understand the
history of the complex relationship between the ISPs, Ghana Telecom, and multiple
government bodies, it is helpful to tease apart four Critical Negotiation Issues (CNIs).

Though in many African countries ISPs had to purchase international connectivity from
the PTT, what is remarkable about Ghana was the fact that by 1996 there were three ISPs
who each had their own international satellite gateways that bypassed Ghana Telecom.
How this happened is our first CNI.

The second CNI resulted as the government struggled to deal with the fact that certain
ISPs had taken advantage of new Voice over IP (VoIP) technology to terminate and
arbitrage international voice calls. Certain ISPs had their equipment confiscated and the
owners were thrown in jail. Later the courts ruled there was no legal basis for these
actions.

To understand this second CNI we have to see it within the context of a larger CNI over
how Ghana should expand its infrastructure to provide universal service particularly in
rural areas. Ghana Telecom has consistently argued that it needed revenues from
international voice calls to fund deployment of universal service.

Finally, the fourth CNI focuses on the question of who should take the leadership to
deploy a national Internet backbone and exchange infrastructure.


         CNI 1: Decision to lisence ISPs’ own international satellite gateways
Who were the     The Ghanaian Government in the 1990s, under pressure from the
main actors      World Bank, began to liberalize the telecom sector to foster economic
and their        development. One result was the adoption of the Accelerated
positions?       Development Program. The Plan called for Ghana Telecom separation
                 from the Ministry of Transport and Communications and
                 estaboishement as a governmkent owned corporation. In addition the
                 Plan established the National Communications Agency (NCA)to
                 regulate the telecom industry. The Plan was became Law with the
                 passage of the National Communications Actin 1996.

                  Under the implementation of the ADP, another telecommunications
                  provider Westel was invited to build a competing network to Ghana
                  Telecom. Westel and Ghana Telecom were given a duopoly over the
                  international gateway for 5 years. In addition, 30% of Ghana Telecom
                  was sold off to a Malaysian consortium.
                     As part of its goals to improve Ghana’s telecommunications
                     infrastructure, the ADP sought to “liberalize the market for value-added
                     services to complement fixed voice telephony.” (Salia, 1997) The Act
                     of 1996 made no actual mention of “value added services.”

                     In 1994, when Nii Quaynor established the first ISP in Ghana, Network
                     Computer Systems (NCS), he applied to the Frequency Board, the
                     precursor to the NCS, for a value added services license so that he
                     could resell international Internet connectivity.




How did the
issue manifest       In 1996, Quaynor was granted a lisence for a satellite connection.
itself, begin to     Ghana Telecom and Westel were supposed to have an exclusive right to
unfold?              international gateway for five years under their ADP licences . Quaynor
                     negotiated with the Ministry to reach a common ground with the NCA
                     and Ghana Telecom to be allowed to implement his own international
                     gateway because Ghana Telecom was having problems providing a
                     reliable and efficient satellite service. In as much as the government
                     was one of the major consumers of NCS’s Internet services, it had
                     reason to support NCS’s development of a more reliable gateway to the
                     global Internet. Under the initial agreement, Quaynor agreed to pay a
                     bypass fee to Ghana Telecom. The ISPs that followed him, Internet
                     Ghana and Africa On-line, were able to get permission to run their own
                     international satellite gateways. .
                     The Ministry of Transportation and Communication and the NCA
                     agreed to continue to license ISPs as value added service providers of
                     data and allowed them to license an international satellite connection
                     that gave them access to the Internet. Basically ISPs where suppose to
                     provide data services and Ghana Telecom voice services (Mahama
                     2003). Eventually, it would become clear that voice was just another
                     data service and that wireless made the value-added/basic distinction
                     obsolete.


How did the          Over time it was clear that Ghana Telecom, as well as the ISPs, were
negotiations         transcending their respective jurisdictions of doing voice and data. We
evolve over          will explore this under the next CNI dealing with Voice Over IP.
time? Did
positions, fora,     By 2000, NCA was giving out separate Internet Service Provider
strategies           licenses and VSAT licenses to most applicants who could pay the fees.1

1
  The NCA in its “Regulatory Charges for Communications Facilities and Services issued in 1999” charges
a one time fee of 12 million Cedes for an ISP license plus an annual fee of 2 million cedes. A Public Data
Network employing VSAT must pay 8 million Cedes per site. MUST GET EXCHANGE RATE IN 1999
RATES. Renewal of the VSAT license was 5 million per VSAT license. According to this document
change?              What is important to remember is that the “duopoly” control of the
                     international gateway (voice and data) was supposed to reside with
                     Ghana Telecom and Westel until 2002.


What alliances       Nii Quaynor was exceptionally qualified to negotiate with the
and coalitions       government. He had served on the Frequency Board, the same board
emerged, and         that issues international gateway licences and he was definitely trusted
on what basis        to handle “this new Internet thing” by sernior national managers.

                     Wilson (2004) points to Quaynor’s classmate at Achimota Secondary
                     School, President Rawlings 2Such connections are important in Accra
                     and provide a social network that to some extent supercedes tribal
                     identification.3
                     A majority of the current President Kufuor’s Ministers with him
                     attended the same secondary school in Kumasi. It is not at all clear that
                     Dr. Quaynor has the power to negotiate with the current government as
                     he did with the proceeding one.

                     Because the NCA and the Ministry of Transport and Communication
                     where getting good service for their own needs from the ISP industry,
                     they had an interest in seeing the ISP industry prosper.


How did the          It was clear that not everyone in the Ghanaian government was happy
issue come to a      with giving out VSAT licenses to all who wanted to become ISPs.
head, get            Wilson (2004) quotes an official in the Ghanaian government who
resolved             when asked about ISPs and their international satellite connections said
                     that they “regret the decision to this day.”

                     In 2003, Parliament passed the National Communications Regulations
                     that implemented the Act of 1996.
                     Internet service is classified under the regulations as a value added
                     service. As a value added service, ISPs must register with the NCA
                     and pay a fee, but they do not need a license. Under the regulations,
                     anyone who runs a satellite earth station must have a license.
                     The Act also makes clear that providers of telecommunication services
                     must make their networks available to value added networks. The
                     question must be raised as to why the regulations say so little about
                     Internet service when there has been so much conflict about the


there is no distinction between VSAT connections that were used to connect sites in Ghana and VSAT
connections that provided international connections. John Mahama 2003
2
  In fact, it is estimated that 60% of the Ministers in Rawlings government attended Achimota Secondary
School.
3
 Rawlings had a Scot father and an Ewe mother. Quyanor is a Ga. Many of the other
ministers who went to Achimota come from other Ghanaian tribes.
                   relationship between ISPs and Ghana Telecom. In addition, the new
                   regulations are very muddled when it comes to wireless technologies,
                   especially when used by ISPs.
What was the       ISPs developed better solutions than Ghana Telecom and hence most
outcome? Was       multi-nationals and diplomatic missions use an ISP service to establish
there any          their own international connectivity platforms to do voice, data and
impact on          video. So hitherto all those entities that went through Ghana Telecom
Internet           had their own platform and could communicate voice, date and video
diffusion?         directly.

                   One of the major clients of ISPs were Internet cafes. These Internet
                   cafes made the Internet accessible to middle class Ghanaians who
                   might not be able to afford a PC and Internet service on their own. In
                   Accra, Internet Cafes sprung up in almost every neighborhood.
                   Ghanaians in Accra and a few of the regional capitals were thus able to
                   participate in the global phenomenon of the Internet that swept the
                   world between 1998 and 2000. By 2000, one out of every hundred
                   people in Ghana was an Internet user. Since Internet was mainly an
                   urban phenomenon, the number of Internet users in Accra was
                   considerably higher.

                   By giving NCS permission to run an international satellite connection,
                   the government set in place a series of decisions that allowed the
                   Ghanaian ISP industry to bypass Westel and Ghana Telecom’s
                   ineffective bottleneck on international connectivity.
                   In doing so, they opened up the possibility of arbitrage on the part of
                   ISPs on voice calls as discussed in the next section on CNI #2: Voice
                   Over IP. Even more important, the breaking of Ghana Telecom’s
                   chokehold allowed a new technology to flourish that created a whole
                   new paradigm in communications. Ghanaians were able to interact with
                   the rest of the world in new ways and at a fraction of the cost.




                              CNI 2: Is Voice Over IP legal?
How did the        By 1995, technology began to appear that allowed computers to convert
issue manifest     “voice” into data packets that could be routed to another computer that
itself, begin to   would convert the data into voice. The voice/data distinction was
unfold?            broken down.
                   .
                   Hence all over the world ISPs began implementing VoIP platforms and
                   Ghana was no exception in 1996. In point of fact the Ministry and NCA
                   knew nothing about this by then but Ghana Telecom and ISPs had
                   enough knowledge with opposing interests.
What was the       In the attempt to cut the cost of calls to Ghana and to increase their
key issue of      profits, certain phone companies outside of Ghana were routing calls
contention, the   over the Internet to Ghanaian ISPs.. These calls came in over the ISPs
extent and        international satellite connection. The ISP would then convert the
nature of the     “data” packets into voice and dial-out on their modems to the receiver
conflict?         of the caller’s phone number.

                  Under the “settlements” system, Ghana Telecom had arrangement
                  where it would terminate calls for phone companies from other nations
                  and those companies would terminate calls for Ghana Telecom. At the
                  end of the year, Ghana Telecom would settle with the foreign carriers.
                  Since Ghana Telecom traditionally terminated more international calls
                  than it originated, it was paid under an agreed upon rate for the
                  difference. Because these payments were in hard currency, they were
                  particularly valued by both Ghana Telecom and the government.

                  By 2000, however, Ghana Telecom found that the number of calls it
                  was terminating had dropped dramatically so that it was originating
                  more international call minutes than it was terminating. It found itself
                  in the unenviable position of having to buy hard currency on the open
                  market to “settle” its accounts.

                  Ghana Telecom then figured out that ISPs where terminating calls onto
                  their network and collecting the hard currency which was “due” them.
                  Ghana Telecom complained to the regulator and the government.
What were the     The four main actors in this drama where Ghana Telecom, NCA,
main actors       Government and ISPs. Ghana Telecom saw the ISPs as stealing their
and their         revenues. They started tampering with lines and putting it on one-way
positions?        traffic only. The NCA held the position that the license issued to ISPs
                  was for data & video and not voice and this position has always
                  changed and evolved whenever they where confronted. To the point of
                  saying when companies do voice over their internal private network it
                  is legal but once companies do it on a commercial scale terminating
                  locally unto the Ghana Telecom platform, that companies were doing
                  something illegal. It is important to point out that there was no explicit
                  law making certain forms of VoIP illegal.

                  According to John Mahama who was the minister at that time his
                  ministry and government’s position was that VoIP as a technology had
                  come to stay and could not be stop and hence Ghana Telecom should
                  work with the ISPs in a framework that was acceptable to both parties.
                  Ghana Telecom did not want to negotiate. The NCA on the other hand
                  held the position that Ghana Telcom and Westel has exclusive right to
                  international gateway so the ISP could not be allowed to do VoIP until
                  that exclusivity was over. The ISPs come from the school of thought
                  that technology is leading policy and regulations. Innovation in new
                  technology is opening lots of possibilities and hence they should be
                  allowed to experiment and see how VoIP can be used to provide more
                  communication infrastructure even to the rural areas at a cheaper rate.
How did the        The NCA changed its position several times as they struggled to find a
negotiations       legal and rational basis for their position and hard stands on VoIP
evolve over        deployment by ISPs.
time? Did
positions, fora,   The Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) and the
strategies         ISPs held the position that Ghana Telecom’s loss of settlement revenue
change?            was based on more than just ISPs terminating voice calls. The whole
                   telecommunications landscape was changing. Ghanaians were using e-
                   mail, chat, and Internet fax to communicate instead of placing
                   expensive international calls. Also, people were receiving international
                   calls on their cell phones through the mobile operators bypassing
                   Ghana Telecom’s gateway and network. In addition, settlement rates
                   were going down because of market pressures.

                   The Ministry was concerned about the revenue loss that Ghana
                   Telecom was experiencing from VoIP but thought that there was need
                   for technology to also thrive in our environment and hence put pressure
                   on the operators to settle the commercial interest among themselves.
                   Frustrated with the NCAs inability to make a decision companies such
                   as ACS were appealing directly to the Minister of Communications
                   (John Manhanma). The Minister intervened and required NCA to make
                   a decision within a week as to whether ACS could use their internal
                   network for VoIP. Under this pressure NCA permitted ACS to use
                   VoIP for their internal communications.
What alliances     Both the Rawlings and Kufour governments generally bought into the
and coalitions     “lets stop” VoIP rhetoric because of the perceived revenue loss to
emerged, and       Ghana Telecom. The Minister of Communications, John Mahama, now
on what basis      admits that NCA took a more aggressive stand on VoIP than he would
                   have wished.

                   The ISPs then saw the need to deal with the challenge as a collective
                   body and hence started meeting and formed the Ghana Internet Service
                   Providers Association (GISPA) which became the mouthpiece of the
                   industry. Though it was a trade association for the sector, one of the
                   major and longest serving operators (NCS) did not join until later and
                   that compromised not only the association or the operator but the force
                   of the association. Initially Nii Quaynor and NCS though invited to the
                   inaugural meeting of GISPA did not show up but later saw that this
                   body was getting together and becoming a force to reckon with. They
                   had no choice than to pay their joining fee and later came to one of the
                   meetings and subsequently contributed to discussions on the listserv.

How did the        Ghana Telecom pointed the finger at ISPs who it claimed were acting
issue come to a    as Internet Telephony Service Providers (ITSP). Dr. Ben Adu, a
head, get          consultant hired by NCA prepared a docket for the Attorney General.
resolved           Adu then led a raid on Mark Telecom, Intercom Data Network (IDN)
                   and Tin-Ifa Ghana Ltd. He claimed the companies were acting as
                   ITSPs and confiscated their equipment and threw some of their
               executives in prison. This created a wave of public outcry from the
               customers of those ISPs and from the people who wanted to
               communicate with those ISPs.

               The ISP managers? who where thrown in prison in 2000 for VoIP
               petitioned the courts and logged a complaint against the NCA. NCA
               could not provide the court with tangible and credible evidence of
               wrong doing. The court ruled in favor of the ISPs requiring the NCA
               to return their equipment and not tamper with their businesses anymore.
               NCA did not obey the court ruling and did not give the equipment back
               though John Mahama says they did after undue delay pending an
               appeal.

               Intercom Data Network (IDN) and Tin-Ifa bought new equipment and
               got back into the ISP business but Mark Telecom went out of business.
               In March of 2003, Ghana Telecom pursued a second strategy and set all
               ISP phone lines into a mode where they could only receive calls
               effectively shutting off the lines from being used to place calls onto
               Ghana Telecom’s switched network. When this was done, ISPs awoke
               to find that they could not place outgoing calls with the administrative
               phones that they used to run their businesses. They cried foul to all
               who would listen and particularly to their connections in the
               government and within a week Ghana Telecom had abandoned its
               strategy. It is important to note that Ghana Telecom could have just
               enabled only the administrative phone lines of the ISPs to call out, but
               they faced such an outcry that they enabled all ISP phone lines to call
               out but they later resorted to the former strategy. It is also rumored that
               many of the ISPs had contacts at Ghana Telecom who enabled them to
               get away with terminating voice calls (Coomson, 2003).

               At the time, NCA initiated a study to quantify the losses that Ghana
               Telecom was facing due to illegal terminating over the switched
               network. According to an October 1, 2003 Ghanaian Chronicle article,
               the NCA study identified 32 unlicensed VoIP (illegal) operators who
               were involved in the activity and estimated that their actions cost
               Ghana Telecom US$15 million last year (Coomson, 2003). NCA wrote
               each of the 32 ISPs and demanded that they reimburse Ghana Telecom
               for the lost revenue and threatened to prosecute them if they did not. It
               was later found out that all of these 32 were neither licensed nor
               authorized by NCS.
What was the   As the date of this writing, the issue of whether ISPs can offer VoIP
outcome? Was   and how much ISP owe Ghana Telecom, if anything, is still being
there any      negotiated. The NCA is in the process of developing a VoIP framework
impact on      so that they can license such operators separately.
Internet       There is also effort to develop a commercial framework for VoIP
diffusion?     between Ghana Telecom and the other operators. A new framework is
               needed, because Ghana Telecom’s and Westel’s international gateway
               has ended.
                   Only certain ISPs have benefited from terminating VoIP calls by
                   placing calls over lines from Ghana Telecom. Not all ISPs have
                   participated in this form of Vo IP. Other ISPs have been able to sell
                   leased lines connections to clients who then used the connections to
                   support voice calls. The arbitrage of international phone traffic has
                   definitely funded the development of parts of the ISP industry in
                   Ghana,.




                     CNI 3: How to Fund Universal Access Provision
How did the        Ghana Telecom claims that it needs revenue from international voice
issue manifest     traffic to fund universal access. This should not be taken as a given as
itself, begin to   the history of negotiations regarding how to provide universal access in
unfold?            Ghana has been long and convoluted.

                   Within the framework of the Accelerated Development Programme
                   (ADP) universal access was a major concern and was supposed to be
                   achieved in two ways; first of all lisenced operators were to develop
                   their infrastructure to cover their areas of operations. Secondly Ghana
                   Telecom, Westel and the mobile operators were to contribute 1% of
                   their gross revenue to a Universal Access Fund called the Ghana
                   Investment Fund for Telecoms (GIFTEL) with which to build rural
                   infrastructure. According to John Mahama, the ISPs had no obligation
                   to contribute towards this fund. and no to provide Universal Access i

                   Ghana Telecom and Westel gave the Ministry and NCA a list of areas
                   where they where going to develop their infrastructure and hence the
                   Ministry and NCA decided to license operators for the rural areas
                   where they were not going to operate .

                   The NCA licensed the first rural operator called Capital Telecom to tap
                   into that fund in addition to their resources and build rural
                   infrastructure in Eastern, Volta, Greater Accra, Central and Western
                   Regions. According to John Mahama, they where in a position to
                   license a second rural operator, who had done their feasibility study but
                   because they lost power it did not happen.

                   Though Capital Telecom got the Export Credit Guarantee (ECDG)
                   from the British government as well as access to GIFTel which had
                   some contributions from Ghana Telcom, Westel and cell phone
                   providers Mobitel and Spacefon. Capital Telecom failed because of
                   wrong equipment purchase, lack of managerial expertise, and conflicts
                   over interconnection with Ghana Telecom and conflicts over spectrum
                  with Mobitel.

                  Most of the operators defaulted in their GIFTel payments because the
                  fund was not properly setup. According to John Mahama, his
                  Ministry’s number one priority was establishing the NCA board and
                  getting the independent regulator up and running. However, the NCA
                  looked on as Ghana Telecom undermined not only Capital Telecom but
                  the second national operator, Western Telesystems (Westel) by not
                  interconnecting and negotiating fairly.
What was the      Ghana Telcom was able to deploy telephony is some of the areas of its
key issue of      mandate but Westel failed woefully and by the end of exclusivity in
contention, the   2000 the NCA slapped penalties of $40 Million and $54 Million on
extent and        Westel and Ghana Telecom respectively for not meeting their telephone
nature of the     line rollouts.
conflict?
                  This generated tension between these operators and the NCA. The
                  operators argued they needed the money to continue the rollouts. The
                  NCA helds its position but through intervention from the Ministry and
                  the Presidency, the fines where reduced and the NCA requested the two
                  operators to pay the fine in installments.

What were the     Ghana Telecom, Westel and the mobile operators started defaulting on
main actors       GIFTel because it was not properly structured and they realized that
and their         Capital Telecom was not getting the money. The NCA could not also
positions?        enforce the rules for interconnectivity between Ghana Telecom and
                  Capital Telecom and the Ministry was not sure of how to make this a
                  reality either. Capital Telecom kept screaming for interconnection
                  enforcement and the establishment of the fund, when it was bleeding
                  and needed resources. Ghana Telecom and Westel committed to
                  reaching out in areas where their license covered. Hence Ghana
                  Telecom, Westel and mobile operators wanted to achieve Universal
                  Access in their own rollout plan, whiles the NCA and ministry where
                  unable to get them to do it also through the GIFTel fund.
How did the       Ghana Telecom and Westel kept arguing that each needed funds for its
negotiations      own deployment and were not sure of Capital Telecoms ability to fulfill
evolve over       Universal Access obligations. Capital Telecom died due to lack of co-
time? Did         operation from Ghana Telecom and other reasons earlier mentioned. By
positions, for a, the end of the exclusivity period in 2000, Ghana Telecom and Westel
strategies        had defaulted and where slapped with fines as mentioned earlier. They
change?           both negotiated with NCA through “political interventions” to reduce
                  their fines since they still needed money to build their networks and
                  could not be servicing the fines.

                  The Kufuor Government brought in Telenor after management from the
                  GCom consortium failed to meet their obligations. The government
                  negotiated with Ghana Telecom’s new management team to deploy
                  400,000 new lines and to give each town or village with a secondary
                  school telecommunication services. Part of these services included
                  Internet service. Again and Again, Ghana Telecom argued that it
                  needed the revenue from international calls to fund this deployment.
                  GISPA (the Ghanaian ISP Association) argued that if ISPs were
                  allowed to terminate VoIP calls they would be willing to contribute to
                  the GIFTel Fund. NCA did not act on this recommendation.
                  With the National Communications Regulations, 2003 the focus shifted
                  from having a Universal Access fund to fund a third party rural
                  telecommunications company to a strategy where all operators shall
                  “provide and extend its services to the entire geographical market for
                  which it was licensed to serve.” Companies including Ghana Telecom,
                  Westel, the cellular operators, and any new operators with national
                  licenses would be required to build out infrastructure into the rural
                  areas.
What alliances    On one hand, you have Ghana Telecom under Telenor management
and coalitions    saying that it is the best hope for universal access in Ghana. The
emerged, and      question is where they are going to find the funds to invest in this
on what basis     deployment. The World Bank and other multilateral agencies are
                  becoming reluctant to lend or give Ghana Telecom the capital that it
                  needs to expand. The World Bank had agreed in 2000 to give Ghana
                  Telecom a loan of US$ 100 million for the upgrade and expansion of its
                  network. With the change in management at Ghana Telecom this loan
                  was approved but not disbursed. At the same time, Ghana Telecom
                  under the new management has signed a contract with Alcatel for
                  equipment for the network expansion and has secured a credit facility
                  with Chinese government to finance the equipment purchase from
                  Alcatel China.

                  On the other hand, you have the ISP community which believes that it
                  has built, and will continue to build, collectively a better network. Up
                  to this point in time, the funds for ISP deployment have all come from
                  private sources. As the ISP community has become more sophisticated,
                  more and more discussion is going on between the ISP community and
                  multilateral donors about financing the expansion of networks based on
                  the Internet Protocol (IP).
How did the       The issue is very much in flux at the time of this writing. There are a
issue come to a   number of lessons to be learned from what happened. NCA was unable
head, get         to make the universal service fund work. The government intervened
resolved          repeatedly in negotiations between NCA and the operators.
What was the      There is no outcome. The question is how quickly the market will
outcome? Was      drive the expansion of the ISP networks throughout the country and
there any         into rural areas. A second option is that Ghana Telecom will role out
impact on         IP infrastructure into rural areas and will undermine the ISP industry.
Internet          To understand the structure of competition between the ISP industry
diffusion?        and Ghana Telecom, we will look at CNI #4 and will examine the
                  negotiation over who will lead the development of Ghana national
                  backbone and Internet infrastructure.
    CNI 4: Who will lead the development of a National Backbone and Exchange?
How did the      The demand for the Internet and other applications requiring high-
issue manifest   speed connectivity demonstrated the need for a national backbone .
itself, begin to
unfold?          The Volta River Authority (VRA) , the main electricity provider, has a
                 fiber line on high-tension power towers This kind of application was a
                 vision of Ghana’s founding President, Kwame Nkrumah who wanted to
                 build an internal communication infrastructure for the country in the
                 long term.

                   The VRA realized the potential of this infrastructure and decided to
                   develop it not only for its internal communication but for a national
                   fibre optic backbone. Volta Communication (Voltacom) a subsidiary
                   communication company was formed and licensed by the NCA with
                   the concert of the Ministry of Communication and Technology to
                   undertake this task and managed to light the fiber from Accra through
                   Cape Coast, Takoradi, Kumasi and back to Accra to form a loop. The
                   whole idea was for this private entity to be the national backbone
                   because Ghana Telecom could not serve that purpose. However their
                   product and services were priced way beyond what the market could
                   bear so only 6 companies, mostly ISPs and mobile companies, signed
                   up to use the service.

                   VRA could not pump more money into this subsidiary because they
                   desperately needed cash for their main stream operations which is
                   provision of power. It was however interesting at that time according to
                   Minister John Mahama to hear Voltacom turn down an offer by a
                   foreign partner to buy stake and raise credit to develop the company
                   further. In the words of Minister Mahama, the VRA became overly
                   protectionist of Voltacom.

                  With the Ghana landing of of SAT3, an offshore undersea cable running
                  on the West Coast of Africa to Portugal, there is , discussion of
                  connecting the two fibres ,for a national fibre backbone.

                  The inability of the ISPs to come together and establish an Internet
                  eXchange Point (IXP) is a major infrastructure and backbone constraint
                  as well.
What was the       The question facing Ghana is who should take the lead in building
key issue of       national infrastructure.
contention, the
extent and         The assumption that Ghana Telecom’s circuit switched infrastructure
nature of the      would be the basis for Ghana’s telecommunications infrastructure is
conflict?          being questioned as people continue to experience call failures due to
                   circuit congestion and short call holding times. There is wide spread
                   skepticism that the Ghana Telecom bureaucracy can take the lead in
                   establishing a reliable infrastructure.
                   Recently the government tried to respond to the demand and
                   propounded the development of a Communication Infrastructure
                   Company (CIC) which was meant to link together all the operator into
                   one company to be “the main provider” but this idea could not see the
                   light of day. It was not feasible and the government could not figure out
                   how to make it happen nor convince the operator.

                   In many ways it is every operator for itself. Voltacom recently
                   increased its price by 300% and demanded the existing users to built
                   alternative infrastructure after six months because they needed them to
                   get off the fibre for a strategic investor to take over. The operators
                   petitioned the government for relief. The resolution was for the
                   operators to be on the fibre for a year instead of the six months.

                   The IXP has being talked off since 1996 but not built because of lack of
                   leadership in the ISP industry. In 2001 when GISPA was formed
                   discussions about the exchange became more focused. However the
                   building of “trust” among the ISPs has not reached the point yet for the
                   uptake of the Ghana Internet eXchange (GIX) though it has being
                   incorporated as a separate entity. One of the issues of contention is the
                   “neutral location” for it. Initially the ISPs wanted one of them to host it
                   but that did not work and then the government wanted to support it but
                   demanded it be put in the space of Ghana Telecom which most
                   operators objected to.
What were the      With respect to the fiber backbone, Ghana Telecom has held the
main actors        position of developing their own fibre backbone and hence there is an
and their          effort to duplicate the southern sector fibre. Voltacom has also taken
positions?         the position of lighting their own fibre to the north by themselves so
                   there is not yet corporation between these two entities. Hence there is a
                   lack of development of an alternate backbone to the Northern region; in
                   point of fact the cost of driving an IP from the south to the north is
                   higher than driving an IP from the south to the Nigeria.

                   There is a current mediation effort from the Ministry and NCA to work
                   out modalities for these two entities to co-operate and establish a single
                   infrastructure for the national backbone.

                   The ISPs are individually and collectively developing their IP networks
                   to reach all parts of the country and these are potential national
                   backbones.

How did the        The current position of the government is to see bring in an outside
negotiations       investor but that position is still being contended. Government is a
evolve over        broker is trying to establish a settlement between Ghana Telecom and
time? Did          Voltacom to come together and build a common infrastructure instead
positions, fora,   of duplicating each others infrastructure. There is a committee currently
strategies         consisting of all the parties discussing the way forward for the national
change?           fiber backbone.

                  The government has also developed an interest in the IXP but wanted
                  to locate it within their domain whiles the ISPs decided to put it in the
                  BusyInternet Café. The support among the ISPs for using
                  BusyInternet has weakened now that BusyInternet is offering ISP
                  services.

                  The most recent consensus is to put it in the Ghana India Kofi Annan
                  Centre of Excellence which is supposed to be an autonomous private
                  institution but the ISPs are not sure until that is a reality. Though the
                  ministry thinks that is a neutral ground the ISPs are not sure.
What alliances    The fact is that an alliance has not developed. It seems logical that an
and coalitions    alliance should emerge on the fibre backbone because it is just too
emerged, and      expensive for both companies to finance the development of their
on what basis     infrastructure individually. However, such an alliance will require
                  strong leadership on the part of the government.

                  The ISPs are better organized to establish the GIX because they have
                  done a lot of the groundwork and may not necessarily need the
                  government to make it happen.
How did the       Both the national backbone and the GIX are still under negotiation and
issue come to a   yet to be resolved. The GIX may become a reality in 2004.
head, get
resolved
What was the      The inability of the Ghanaian Government, Votacom, Ghana Telecom,
outcome? Was      and the ISP industry to implement a national backbone has slowed the
there any         geographical dispersion of the Internet in Ghana. ISPs have not sprung
impact on         up to serve regional markets. A few of the ISPs have built their own
Internet          national backbones, but these have been confined to a few regional
diffusion?        capitals. Internet diffusion has centered on Ghana’s capital Accra.

Coomson, J., “32 ISPs caught in NCA dragnet,” The Ghanaian Chronicle, October 1,
2003.
Salia, E. “Telecommunications Sector Reform Programme,” Speech to Parliament,
February 6, 1997
Wilson, E., The Internet Revolution and Developing Countries, MIT Press, 2004.

General comments: I think one thing the chapter will need is setting the CNIs within the
political and economic setting of Ghana….there is no context for what is going on in the
country as is…the big picture is missing. Also, need a time frame for all the CNIs. When
you do write this up as a more cohesive chapter, you’ll have to pay attention to making
sure all the sections fit together and flows as a good story/unfolding of each CNI. Also,
the relationships between issues will be important to point out. Finally, what is unique
about the Ghana case? What is the story? Each of the other case studies have a
uniqueness that underlies the whole story of Internet diffusion, but I don’t get a good
sense for what this will be in the case of Ghana.

				
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