From: Evelyn Phillips <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: (Fwd): Ghana Urges Improved Communication Links Between African States
From: "Amadou Kabir Njie" <email@example.com
Ghana Urges Improved Communication Links Between African States
By Goddy Ikeh, PANA Correspondent, 2 March 1999
ACCRA, GHANA (PANA) - The Ghanaian vice president, Prof. John Atta Mills, has called for improved communication links between African countries in order to achieve the continent's economic integration.
Declaring open the African Telecommunications Summit Tuesday in Accra, Mills deplored the current practice of routing telephone calls between African states through the capital cities of their former colonial governments.
Mills, who was represented by the chairman of the country's council of states, Mumuni Bawumia, urged African governments and telecommunication providers to ensure prompt provision of telephones to subscribers and reduce the waiting time for telephone installations to subscribers in African cities and the rural areas.
He emphasised the need to tackle the problems of high cost of providing telephones, reducing the long waiting time for prospective users of telephone and improve on the reliability of telephone services.
To him, these issues are important and should be the basis of the new desire for African renaissance.
Speaking on Ghana's experience in the privatisation of its telecommunications, Mills said that the Ghanaian government had to sell 30 percent stake in the company in order to improve telecommunication services and involve the private sector in the provision of that vital service to consumers.
According to him, the Ghanaian government is now concerned with policies and has put in place a regulatory authority to oversee the operations of various service providers.
Since the privatisation programme began in 1996/97, he said, about 70,000 telephone lines had been provided to consumers as against 77,000 lines provided before and after the country became independent in 1957.
He also said that the waiting period for telephone services had been reduced from about 15 years to a matter of months and weeks, while the cost of providing telephone services had reduced from 40 US dollars to about 15 dollars.
The three-day telecom summit, organised jointly by Spectrum International Ltd and Ghana's ministry of communications, is being attended by ministers of communications, telecommunication providers, government ministries, experts, consultants and journalists from over 10 African countries, Europe and the United States.