08.01.2004 Business & Finance

VOLTACOM to be independent

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Accra, Jan. 8, GNA - Government is to separate VOLTACOM, a fibre optic communications facility owned by the Volta River Authority (VRA) from the latter to open up its services to the broader telecommunications industry in Ghana.

The transfer process, which is to be supervised by the Ministry of Communications and Technology and Ministry of Energy, would be completed soon to enable Ghana Telecom (GT) Company, the nation's largest telecom operator to reach as many people as quickly as possible. Dr Kwesi Ndoum, Minister of Energy and Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of Communications and Technology said this during an interaction with the visiting President of Columbia University in New York City, Mr Lee C. Bollinger, who is being accompanied by his wife, Jean.

Mr Lee is in the country as a follow up to the recent visit of President John Agyekum Kufuor to Columbia University during the recent World Information Society Conference in New York. He is also in to seek exact areas of cooperation between Coloumbia University and Ghana's universities, polytechnics and other institutions of higher learning.

Dr Nduom said the decision was to make the facility available to GT, which currently needed to provide greater access to its subscribers. "The idea is also to open up the northern half of the country to information communication and technology that would bring about increased development and technology transfer. "Some of these could be in the area of medicine, finance, building and any such subject that the nation's institutions will find desirable.

"We are also looking at the possibility of extending the facility to Burkina Faso and Mali, our immediate northern neighbours. Dr Nduom said the facility when fully divorced from the VRA and operated separately would "also be opened to the private sector and I am sure that the current telecom operators in the country will find it useful".

He intimated that the increased use of fibre optics, instead of cable would lead to increased access and lower the present high costs of communication.

Dr Nduom said the aim of the Government and Columbia University was to create a meaningful platform for exchange of ideas and creating of linkages between Ghana and the international finance world of the University.

"I believe that you are capable through the relationships that your University has with the financial world in America to re-direct funds and technical know how into Ghana's universities. Mr Kan-Dapaah said the aim of the Government was to build a viable and sustainable communication backbone and skilled manpower to man the system.

Mr Bollinger said he was impressed with the extent of reach of ICT in Ghana and expressed the hope that the relationship would be fruitful. Mr Bollinger would meet with President Kufuor; U.S. Ambassador Mary Carlin Yates and visit Kumasi and have an audience with the Asantehene, Otumfuo Osei Tutu II.

"Columbia University, working with the United Nations and other international organizations, has long-standing research and service programs in Ghana," said Mr Bollinger.

"Many distinguished Columbia faculties have worked, and have plans for working, closely with Ghanaians on critical issues of global concern, from improving healthcare delivery to environmental conservation and economic development alternatives. I look forward to discussing ways of building on this strong relationship with President Kufuor and others."

The Columbia's President would discuss higher education issues of mutual interest and ways to maximize cross-national cooperation with Dr Akilagpa Sawyerr, Secretary-General of the Association of African Universities (AAU), headquartered in Accra. 08 Jan. 04

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