Public energy company, the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) has announced its intention to venture into internet and telecommunications service provision.
ECG managing director Samuel Boakye-Appiah said the company will use its network to deploy fibre in partnership with telcos, and its infrastructure could be used to provide data and internet services.
To kickstart the process, the company is conducting the feasibility of reusing its power infrastructure assets to run its telecommunication business. Once completed, ECG will then develop a blueprint for the initiative.
“The move is in support of government’s digitalisation agenda,” said Boakye-Appiah.
Electricity companies are increasingly considering the prospect of internet service provision. The service referred to as broadband over power lines allows relatively high-speed digital data transmission over the public electric power distribution wiring.
According to the World Bank, efforts aimed at expanding electricity and broadband access should go hand-in-hand.
“Close coordination between the energy and ICT sectors is probably one of the most efficient and sensible ways of making sure rural populations in low-income countries can reap the benefits of digital development,” the World Bank stated.
Industry experts have argued, however, that allowing electricity companies to also provide internet services may create new challenges for African regulators who lack policies to regulate the players in the space.
In many African countries, electricity availability in rural areas is comparatively lower than mobile connectivity.
Priority may be given to urban centres with better coverage than rural areas where electricity infrastructure is limited, said Anna Lerner, World Bank’s Energy and ICT Specialist.
According to Ghana’s National Communications Authority (NCA), at the end of December 2018, the total number of 2G/3G mobile data subscriptions in the country was 26,184,235 with a penetration rate of 88.84%.
During the same period, total number of subscriptions for 4G Data was 1,128,498 with MTN accounting for about 93% of the country’s 4G market share totalling 1,128,498 subscribers.