Ghana makes concessions for 4G

4G concessions to pave the way for 4G adoption, reaching 77% of total mobile subscriptions by 2028.

Ghana is accelerating its drive to extend 4G mobile broadband coverage nationwide. Two out of three of the country’s MNOs [mobile network operators] have been approved to re-farm their existing 2G and 3G spectrum holdings for 4G use, contingent on them paying an annual premium.

The regulator, National Communications Authority, will hope that these concessions will provide sufficient economic motivation for AT and Telecel Ghana (formerly AirtelTigo and Vodafone Ghana, respectfully), and other stakeholders to ramp up investments in mobile broadband infrastructure and ultimately propel the country to achieve nationwide 4G coverage.

A sequence of events, originating back in June 2020, has culminated in this regulatory-led approach towards 4G development. Firstly, MTN Ghana was declared a significant market power (over 40% market share in both voice and data segments) in June 2020, accompanied by tariff-based corrective measures. Secondly, a long anticipated and the most significant corrective measure was introduced only in July 2023 – ‘Technology Neutrality’ – is designed to help non-significant market players to launch 4G services within existing spectrum allocations or to re-farm spectrum to improve 4G quality of service.

MTN Ghana, which acquired Ghana’s first 4G spectrum in an auction, uncontested, will look to capitalize on its first mover advantage to maintain its market position. It is also taking advantage of the technology neutrality initiative to optimize the utility of its spectrum holdings.

All the above considered, it came as no surprise when, a month later in August, the government approved plans to create a neutral shared network to advance both 4G and 5G services, in partnership with private investors and telcos. The model adopted by Ghana means there will be no 5G spectrum auction nor individual 5G spectrum holdings by any operator, but rather given to the shared network.

These developments are expected to boost 4G and 5G uptake in the country.

Source: Global Data Ghana Telecom Operators Country Intelligence Report 2024.