The promise by the government to extend free Wireless Fidelity (WiFi) connectivity to schools across the country has been fulfilled, with the extension of the service to 13 public tertiary institutions.
WiFi is a system used for connecting computers and other electronic equipment to the Internet without using cables.
The beneficiaries are the University of Ghana (UG); the University of Cape Coast (UCC); the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST); the University of Education, Winneba (UEW); the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA); the University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), and the University of Mines and Technology.
The rest are the University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA); the Regional Maritime University; the Ghana Communication Technology University (GCTU); the Ghana Institute of Journalism (GIJ); the Ghana Institute of Languages (GIL) and the National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI).
The Vice-President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, who inaugurated the facility at the new campus of the GIJ at North Dzorwulu in Accra yesterday, said the success of the pilot programme would lead to the extension of the system to other institutions, including technical universities, colleges of education and nursing training colleges.
He explained that the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR) and the University for Development Studies (UDS) could not be connected because they fell outside the operational area of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) which spearheaded the project.
Dr Bawumia, however, gave an assurance that special arrangements were being made to connect public universities in Sunyani and beyond and that the ECG would liaise with the Northern Electricity Distribution Company (NEDCo) and the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) to leverage their fibre resources and reach out to institutions in those areas.
He said work to extend the WiFi services to senior high schools, all 46 colleges of education and district education offices was also ongoing through the collaborative effort of the Minister of Education, Dr Mathew Opoku Prempeh, and the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful.
“Ongoing Free WiFi project in SHS will be accelerated. We are covering all 722 SHSs in the country. At the moment, over 80 per cent of the work is complete,” the Vice-President added.
He said the government was committed to leveraging information and communication technology (ICT) as a cross-cutting enabler for economic growth, service delivery and a learning tool.
The Minister of Energy, Mr John-Peter Amewu, said the current agenda of the ECG to partner the world of digitisation was laudable, but reminded management of the company to be mindful that ECG was a strategic national asset that must prudently be managed.
He noted that the core advantage in reusing powerline networks to deploy fibre infrastructure had led to a rush by electricity distribution utilities and host of other technology companies to enter into partnership agreements with the ECG.
The Board Chairman o the ECG, Mr Kelly Gadzekpo, said the board approved over $11 million for the project WiFi project.
For his part, the Rector of GIJ, Professor Kwamina Kwansah-Aidoo, said the institute’s modern data centre had the capacity to deliver high-speed Internet services for in-person and virtual learning.
In April last year, Dr Bawumia requested the ECG to leverage its fibre optic infrastructure to support the government’s Free WiFi for Schools project. In all, over 650 kilometres of fibre lines have been constructed.
The project has led to the extension of a total of 50km metro fibre connectivity to eight of the public tertiary institutions in the Greater Accra Region; 94.7 km fibre lines to the Central Region; 116km fibre routes from Dodowa to Ho, through parts of the Eastern Region, as well as 132km fibre line from Elmina in the Central Region to the Western Region.