TELECOMMUNICATIONS POLICY IN A RAPIDLY EVOLVING MARKET CTO conference on implementing the WSIS Action Plan, NAIROBI, 25-26th March,2004. Presented by Hon. Albert Kan-Dapaah Minister of Communications Ghana
Role of Government • Previous role: - supplying telecom services - albeit through public sector telecos. - procuring ICT equipment, etc. • Today’s role: - development of forward-looking policies - encouraging competitive regulatory environment - promoting investment in the sector.
Ghana’s Accelerated Programme 1994/95 • Objectives -bringing about a sustained improvement in availability and quality service to meet demand. -improve public access in rural and urban areas, -expand coverage of mobile services, -promote Ghanaian ownership and control of telecommunications companies -public regulatory control of sector through the creation of a single agency, NCA.
Accelerated Programme - Features • Authorisation of two national network operators: Ghana Telecom and new independent operator, • Privatisation of GT through sale of a strategic stake. • Liberal policy towards authorisation of value-added services such as payphone, mobile services and data, • Removal of restrictions on private network construction, • Creation of a single regulatory agency: the NCA.
Outcome of Liberalisation • Licence obligations were not met • Failure of Duopoly to introduce effective competition, • Long waiting periods for new applicants for service, • High access charges and corruption, • Poor quality of service • Weak Regulatory Agency • Poor interconnection and spectrum management
Post-Exclusivity Development- Priorities • The development of countrywide broadband infrastructure, • Promotion of competition, • Revision of licensing requirements, • Attraction of investors, and • Development of Human Resource capacity.
New Telecommunications Policy • Context • To develop infrastructure to improve universal access and service and the creation of necessary legal and regulatory and institutional enabling environment.
WSIS Targets • To connect villages with ICTs etc • To connect Universities, colleges, schools with ICTs, • To connect Health Centres and hospitals with ICTs • To connect all local and central government depths. • To ensure access to TV and radio for the population, etc etc etc
Sector Strategy • To review current status of sector and prepare on that basis, a sector diagnostic identifying the bottlenecks and opportunities
Objectives of Policy • Promote development of reliable and robust national ICT infrastructure • Encourage the development of infrastructure to promote access to ICTs for the whole community • Define Universal Service • Promote competition • Stimulate local content development
Contentious Issues in Policy • How Policy will provide risk/reward approach to regulation to facilitate infrastructure development • How to establish effective interconnection in the absence of credible information. • How to establish an optimum number of players. • What guarantees are required to persuade the private sector to play expected role.
Contentious Issues (contd) • Introducing transparency to the management of Spectrum. • Treatment of VoIP. • Who manages Universality Funds for telecom development. • How can the industry strengthen R & D • Protection of national defence and security interests.
Conclusion • Telecommunications Policy is regarded as “Works-in-Progress” • Telecom Policy should be made within the wider context of national ICT Policy and Plan • Policy should help develop Information Society and Economy • Pursue Multi-sectoral ICT development Goal • Develop ICT sector to use ICT as broad-based enabler of Development Goals