Celltel Networks, Roberta Annan Consulting (RAC) and Chinese government's international cooperation company, CEIEC have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to collaborate in the execution of the US$300 million Ghana smart cities project under the brand name ArisCel.
Under the MoU, Ghanaian company, Celltel Networks is the concept developer, Roberta Annan Consulting is onboard as transaction advisors for CEIEC, while CEIEC is joins a consortium of expert companies to deliver on the project.
The three companies will soon be entering into a comprehensive agreement with the other partners of the project, which will be funded by a consortium of private investment banks and vendors.
The Ghana Smart Cities project has been designed to provide affordable nationwide Wi-Fi network in collaboration with the local government institutions and other strategic and relevant government agencies.
Ahead of the MOU with RAC and CEIEC, Celtell Networks and its original foreign partners on the project, which include Cisco representative Sylversys Consulting International and US-based Aristotle Incorporated, and Hughes Corporation have been working on the project design for years.
Aristotle, for instance, made a detailed presentation on the project to a Ghanaian delegation to the US last year.
Meanwhile, Celltel has already acquired four floors in the strategically placed and plush 12-storey 335 Place along the N1 Motorway extension for offices, an academy and a showroom.
Founder and Chairman of Celltel Networks, Dr. Prince Kofi Kludjeson told Adom News that “for starters we will distribute affordable Apple handheld devices on subscription and flexible payment terms to enable many more Ghanaians to own Apple devices and pay in installments.”
He explained that the ArisCel network is purely a subscription-based Wi-Fi service so the Apple handheld devices can also be connected to other telecom networks for purposes of phone calls and even mobile broadband.
“So we will distribute our devices ahead of the rollout of the ArisCel Wi-Fi network so that subscribers can start using them on their preferred telecom networks as they wait for the launch of ArisCel,” he said.
Dr. Kludjeson said Celltel Networks believes in the government’s Digital Ghana Agenda, characterize by the paperless services at all government offices, digital address system, and various electronics services such as e-education, e-health, e-agriculture and many more.
"We believe our strategy sits well with the recently announced vision of the Communications Minister, Ursula Owusu Ekuful to include all Ghanaians in the digital economy via the provision of affordable smart devices to enable many access the various digital platforms being created," he said.
“Beyond the Apple devices, we will also distribute digital television sets that make access to the internet at home easy – this one also comes on subscription basis,” the Celltel Chairman said.
The Celltel Networks Founder further explained that every level of subscription would come with one device or the other and the vision is to enable access to education, health, security, business and other relevant materials on the internet in the comfort of homes, offices, school and more.
According to him, the company and its partner banks would be working with the various local government institutions, academic institutions, media organizations, identifiable groups and selected government offices to make the subscription plan work with the view to making Wi-Fi access spread faster.
He said Celltel would continue to drive this laudable agenda by striking deals with reputable partners around the world to provide high-performance devices to Ghanaians on affordable basis and flexible payment terms.
One of such deals, is the collaboration with CEIEC, which promises to deploy relevant technologies from China in Ghana for the benefit of Ghanaians.
One of the leading project partners is US-based digital divide solution experts, Aristotle Incorporated.
President and Chairman of Aristotle, Elizabeth Bowles told Adom News
"Aristotle is the technical advisor for the project. We have engineered the network and determined which equipment will best be suited to provide Ghana with broadband internet and Smart City Services."
She added that once the project is complete, Aristotle will continue to assist with management of and improvements to the network to ensure that it continues to provide excellent service to Ghanaians.
According to her, Aristotle has been dedicated to bringing broadband to unserved and underserved areas of rural America, and she personally Chair the Broadband Deployment Advisory Council of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, charged with addressing the digital divide in the Untied States between those who have and do not have broadband internet.
"When I learned of the need in Ghana for adequate internet, I realized that Aristotle could help to resolve that problem as well," she said.
Elizabeth Bowles believes access to broadband internet is critical for Ghana to compete economically and will bring economic opportunities to Ghana, and Aristotle wants to be a part of ensuring that happens.
She said over the last two years, Aristotle has invested a significant amount of time and money engineering a solution that will work for Ghana, and she is glad it is finally coming to fruition, adding that going forward, Aristotle anticipates having an office with staff on the ground in Ghana to manage the network going forward.
The other key partner of the project is Sylversys Consulting International, which represents Cisco on the team.
CEO of Sylversys, Serge Philippe Ouedraogo also told Adom News as a global technology management consulting and professional services company, Sylversys serves as the technology advisory and implementation partner, leading essentially on the core Cisco technologies.
"We also double as the Cisco Partner of choice for the project, and thus server as a liaison with Cisco Inc and the other stakeholders of the ArisCel project," he said.
Serge Ouedraogo believes the ArisCel project is one unheard of in Ghana, and possibly in the whole of West Africa; combining the latest and state-of-the-art technologies to provide a country-wide wireless network, which will serve as a core enabler for a Smart Ghana.
"It is a great challenge and opportunity for our company to work on such a laudable project - to have the chance of serving a country’s need by fast tracking its technology advancement is motivation enough for our involvement and utmost commitment.p," he said.
He said Ghanaians can expect faster, cheaper and a wider access to the Internet, while the local government authorities throughout the country can expect greater throughput and advances on the digitization of various services through the Smart City portfolio, which is a core objective of the ArisCel project.
CEO of Roberta Annan Consulting, Roberta Annan believes this collaboration will go a long way to give Ghanaians easy and affordable access to relevant technology to boost their businesses, particularly at the small scale level nationwide.
Meanwhile, Celltel Networks has also signed a procurement contract with Ghanaian-based Fitzgerald Basey Company Limited for the procurement and movement of devices and equipment across the country.
RAC is part of Roberta Annan Capital Partners (RACP), a specialized boutique investment and advisory company active in industries like energy, health, education, real estate, agribusiness, technology, etc.
CEIEC is the same company that signed an MoU with Forestry Commission of Ghana to embark on a US$3.5billion afforestation, logging, wood processing and furniture manufacturing project in Ghana.