Ghana to extend fibre optics connection to Burkina Faso

Steps are far advanced for Ghana to provide Burkina Faso with fibre optics connection by the close of December 2010. Mr. Edwin Alfred Provencal, Managing Director of National Communications Backbone Company (NCBC) said, "The December 2010 target is achievable." He gave the assurance when the Chief Director of Burkina Faso's Ministry of Post and ICT, Mr. Saidou Yanogo, called on Mr. Kweku Ofosu-Adarkwa, Chief Director at the Ministry of Communication (MOC), to discuss the way forward for the fibre optics interconnection between the two countries. In line with the philosophy of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) for fibre optics interconnection at the continental level to be the basis of maximising the benefits of communication infrastructure to individual countries, Ghana who chairs the ITU, is seeking to connect to neighbouring countries. Mr. Provencal said it was estimated that a completed detailed design of fibre optics connection from Bolgatanga through Bawku in Ghana to Sankansa in Burkina Faso would cost three million dollars. He said the choice of Sankansa as the connection point was technically strategic and financially viable, since it served as a connection point between Burkina Faso and Togo as well. "If we are able to connect at Sankansa, all three countries would get huge fibre optics redundancy such that if there is a break in one, we can always resort to the other without problems," he said. Mr. Provencal however, noted that the challenges facing the project were those of finance and the difficulty in laying fibre on borrowed infrastructure, through the White Volta and digging the rocky terrain in the area. With regard to the use of borrowed infrastructure, he said the NCBC would need the intervention of the MOC and the Ministry of Energy to negotiate with GRIDCO to allow the use of their towers for the connection. Mr. Ofosu-Adarkwa said research and statistics had shown that currently, if African countries combined their communications infrastructure, they would meet at least 60 per cent of the communications needs. "We trust that when we connect our infrastructure, we will create redundancy for ourselves and also heal the gaps in our individual countries," he said. Mr. Yanogo expressed satisfaction with the commitment of the MOC and NCBC towards the project and expressed the hope that firm agreements would be reached on funding for the project to take off soon and meet its December 2010 target.