Government, Huawei to Construct Rural Star Sites to Bridge Digital Divide

The Ministry of Communications and the Ghana Investment for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) have signed a financing agreement for the rural network project.

Per the agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China, Huawei will deploy more than 2000 Rural Star sites for Ghana to provide voice and data services for over 3.4 million people in underserved and unserved communities.

This would extend the national mobile communication coverage from 83 per cent to 95 per cent.

A statement issued in Accra by Huawei Ghana said the move would greatly accelerate local economic development while improving people’s livelihoods. The project is to be completed by September 2021.

It said although mobile communication in Ghana has seen rapid development in recent years, the development of rural telecommunications was still relatively lagging.

It said the lack of rural communication network infrastructure restricted the development of the rural economy, a result of which the government took some positive steps to promote rural telephony services and digital inclusion in rural and marginalized communications.

The initiative is led by the Ministry of Communication through GIFEC and will be leased to domestic carriers (Mobile Network Operators) for market expansion and user development after its completion.

It said Huawei was committed to bringing the digital world to every person and every family and continuously facilitating rural network solutions.

“Since 2017, Huawei has launched three innovative solutions focused on achieving optimal cost of network construction and operation for different rural scenarios which include the Rural Star, Rural Star Lite, and Rural Star Pro solutions,” it said.

The statement said in the Ghana project, the Rural Star solution locally brewed through the collaborative effort of Ghana would be used.

The indigenous rural star solution transforms microwave or satellite in traditional rural network solution into wireless relay, towers into simple poles, and diesel generators into clean and green solar energy.

Compared with the traditional rural network solutions, the rural star reduces cost by more than 50 per cent.

“Currently, Rural Star has been commercially used in more than 110 countries around the world, serving a population of over 40 million,” it said.

Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, commenting on the project, said: “ICT development plays a vital role in revitalizing the national economy, especially in promoting rural economic development.”

She said accelerating the improvement of rural communications facilities was one of government’s important agenda.

“We selected Huawei as a partner in this rural network project as we have seen Huawei’s unremitting efforts in bridging the digital divide,” she said.

She expressed the hope that the project could be completed as soon as possible so that people in more remote areas could enjoy the benefits of mobile broadband.

Mr Abraham Kofi Asante, the Administrator of GIFEC, said the Fund through the Rural Telephony Project, had deployed 400 rural star sites to over 2000 rural communities, providing mobile network coverages to more than 1.2 million people.

He said “The project was implemented through a Tripartite Cooperation Model with the Mobile Network Operator and Huawei as the technical solution provider.

He said the effective partnership had resulted in considerable cost savings and wider expansion in rural connectivity.

“Partnering with Huawei on this project, therefore, will ensure that all persons in Ghana are part of government’s digitization agenda, and improve the socio-economic wellbeing of people living in Rural Ghana,” he added.

He said these beneficiaries would be able to communicate effectively with family, friends, and transact business with people all over the world.


Source: Ghana News Agency