Accra, Jan. 18, GNA - The Ministry of Communications (MOC) and Telecommunications Consultants India Limited (TCIL) on Wednesday signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to set the tone for the commencement of a Pan-African e-network project in Ghana.
The project, estimated to cost billion of dollars was a promise made by the Indian President, Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam at the African Union (AU) conference in Johannesburg on September 16, 2004, to provide instant connectivity between African leaders (VVIP network) together with tele-medicine and tele-education.
Following the Indian President's promise an MOU was signed between the Indian Government and the AU on October 27, 2005 and TCIL was selected to be the implementers of the Project.
Mr Albert Kan-Dapaah, Minister of Communications, who signed on behalf of the Ghana Government, said the e-network project would cover 53 nations of the AU by satellite and fibre optic network to promote tele-medicine, tele-education and VVIP connectivity. He noted that the Project would put the AU countries on the path to achieving the Millennium Development Goals by contributing significantly to socio-economic development and productivity in the beneficiary countries.
The Minister said the e-education and e-medicine aspects of the project in particular would provide the opportunity to extend essential ICT infrastructure to certain rural communities and under-served areas and bring excellent applications in health and education to their doorstep.
"We believe that the successful implementation of the projects will go a long way to minimize the disparities in development between our urban and rural communities and hopefully, contribute to the early realization of our MDGs," he said.
Mr Kan-Dapaah said the Ministry was working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health to identify appropriate interlocutors for the tele-education and tele-medicine, respectively, as designated hubs to interact with their Indian counterparts, as the main service location would be in India. He said experts from the three ministries were in link with their counterparts in India to share knowledge and experience on how to develop appropriate content for the efficient use of the facility, the commencement of which was slated for January 2007.
The Minister noted that, three countries, Ghana, Ethiopia and South Africa were vying to host the African hub for the project but "Ghana considers that it is better placed to host the hub because of progress made in infrastructure development."
Mr Ganash C. Pandey, TCIL Regional Director, West Africa, said his company was hopeful that the Project would put Africa on the path to accelerated development.
TCIL was charged to do designing and supplying of equipment, installation, training, testing as well as commissioning and maintenance of a Very Small Aperture Terminal (VSAT) based network. It would also operate the Project for a five-year period before handing over to an African team.
The network shall offer one tele-education and tele-medicine terminal each and a VVIP communication node for Heads of State in each of the beneficiary countries.