Internet challenges: Minister calls for diversification  of connectivity infrastructure

Internet challenges: Minister calls for diversification of connectivity infrastructure

The current Internet challenges which have affected economic activities in 13 countries present an opportunity for the country to diversify its Internet connectivity sources, Minister of Communication and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has said.


She said the country has not utilised satellite Internet infrastructure as much as it should due to cost implications as Internet from satellite providers are more expensive.

At the Artificial Intelligence Summit in Accra, she said there was therefore the need to engage the satellite providers to see how they could utilise that technology to provide the country with some sort of backbone connectivity infrastructure that was affordable.

She said the current Internet outages also presented an opportunity for the government and the private sector to invest more in connectivity.

It will be recalled that in December last year, the National Communications Authority released a statement that the operations of satellite-based Internet service provider, Starlink, was illegal.

According to the Authority, Starlink has neither been licensed in Ghana nor has any of its equipment been type-approved.

Digital infrastructure

Ms Owusu-Ekuful said the government in the last seven years had been preparing itself for the onslaught of AI.

She said digital infrastructure had been on its agenda and with the help of development partners, particularly the World Bank, a lot have been done in that regard for the smooth take-off of the digital economy.

“It was important that we put in place our national ID system, proper addressing system, digital financial services among others.”

“All these systems would have to work right on the infrastructure underpinning all of that which is connectivity and we have worked with the private sector to extend the network of fibre infrastructure,” she stated.

Risks of AI

Also speaking at the summit, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Kristalina Georgieva, said despite the urgent need to embrace AI, it comes with its own risks that had to be addressed as well.

According to recent IMF research on the impact of AI on the labour markets, about 60 per cent of jobs would be affected in advanced countries, 40% of jobs affected in emerging markets and developing economies (EMDEs) and 26% of jobs in low-income countries.

The IMF Managing Director said countries must therefore put in place measures that would enable them to take advantage of the benefits, while managing the risks.

“We have to think of how we can make the best out of it to prevent AI from being a source of inequalities instead of a source of good,” she stated.

For countries to effectively take advantage of AI, she said the IMF had identified four critical areas which needed immediate attention.

These four areas are investment in digital infrastructure; investment in human capital; innovation, and effective regulations and ethics.

Fourth industrial revolution 

In his welcome address, the Minister of Finance, Dr Mohammed Amin Adam, said as an off-shoot of the fourth industrial revolution, AI was leading to fundamental changes in the way people live, work and relate to one another.

He said the current Internet challenges which had affected economic activities in 13 countries were a reflection of how technology was impacting lives.

Commenting on the contribution of technology to the economy, he said the ICT sector's contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) had increased from GH¢4.4 billion in 2016 to GH¢21 billion in 2022, approximately 4% of GDP.

He also highlighted that AI was projected to contribute up to US$15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, of which US$1.2 trillion could be generated in Africa, thereby making AI one of the biggest economic opportunities available to the continent.


“We are truly in an era where new innovations will continue to surprise. This presents us with opportunities to not only address longstanding challenges but also unlock new avenues for progress, the likes of which our forefathers could never have imagined,” he stated.

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