Opanyin Kwame Nyarko is 65 years old and leaves in peace and tranquility in his village, Menpeasem in one of the most remote places in the country. Five years ago, he retired from 35 years of work as a civil servant which saw him work in Tamale, Takoradi and finally Accra.
Dr. Kwame Owusu operates a clinic in the same village of Menpeasem that handles basic health concerns with serious cases referred to a hospital about 50 kilometres away. In a community of less than a 1,000 inhabitants, they lack the basic amenities of electricity and water, not to talk about internet connectivity.
When Opanyin Nyarko want to talk to his children and grandchildren in Kumasi and Accra, he has to travel for about 10 kilometres to the nearest town before he can get to a call centre and with Dr. Owusu, he has to make regular 50kilometre treks through dusty and terrible roads to seek the opinion of other doctors on diagnosis and treatment of his patients.
Due to these challenges, the inhabitants of Menpeasem, who are mostly poor and rural farmers, are not connected in any way to the broader economy and their contribution is next to zero. Should this community get access to electricity, water and more importantly the internet, only one can imagine what can happen in terms of human development and the community’s contribution to the economy.
The lack of enough communication and internet connectivity in Ghana costs the economy millions of dollars per day. Research point to the fact that each communication disruption costs the country approximately US$6.3million a day, with disruptions expected to total 22 days in 2018, totaling US$138.6 million. If a disruption costs this much, how much is a lack thereof costing the economy? Probably billions.
But there is always hope on the horizon. With increased mobile phone penetration more and more Ghanaians are getting hooked onto the internet. There are currently more sim cards than the total number of Ghanaians and smartphone penetration is on a steep rise.
With a total population nearing 30million and more than half of that under the age of 30, the need for the use of technology is only growing. To this end, managers of the country’s economy keep pushing broadband penetration, mindful of a World Bank study that a 10 percent increase in broadband penetration could propel a country to gain as much as 1.4percent increase in national economic output, measured by gross domestic product (GDP).
Satellite is the way forward
As terrestrial connectivity is growing exponentially, so has satellite capacity. Over the last few years, satellite operators have observed the highest ever demand for broadcast services in Ghana, predicting that prospects for further growth are strong.
This is expected as satellites remain the core infrastructure in the digital broadcasting environment, both for feeding head-ends and reaching viewers beyond terrestrial on a direct-to-home basis.
Today, satellite communication can deliver a terrestrial-grade experience with voice, video, and data that can be accessed anywhere in the world. Satellite networks are dependable, providing constant connectivity even when terrestrial networks fail. With satellite networks, enterprises can maintain business continuity with built-in redundancy and automatic back-up service.
Satellite networks already constitute a private network. By adding encryption technology satellite can provide a more secure connection than terrestrial networks, making it an ideal solution for government, military and enterprise VPN (virtual private network) solutions.
The modularity of satellite technologies allows for quick time-to-market and fast upgrades. Satellite technology can be deployed rapidly and new remote locations are easily added to a network where limited terrestrial infrastructure exists simply by configuring bandwidth to the site and having ground equipment installed.
Satellite technology is an ideal solution for quick deployment, immune to the challenges posed by difficult terrain, remote locations, harsh weather, and terrestrial obstacles. In this rapidly expanding market, satellite allows a service provider to get to market quickly and efficiently and provide immediate connectivity in disaster and emergency relief scenarios.
Satellite technology can deliver a communications infrastructure to areas where terrestrial alternatives are unavailable, unreliable or simply too expensive. Satellite allows service providers to insure scalability, profitability and maintain low operating expenses, all while overcoming a lack of existing infrastructure.
Why Ghana must go full scale satellite
Most African countries such as Ghana simply still lack the fiber to distribute bandwidth more locally, and satellites are being tapped to do the task more quickly. Wireless operators in the country are increasingly turning to satellite to help them offer services outside of key urban centres.
Total satellite backed sites using 3G and 4G networks are expected to grow to over 10,000 sites by 2020 to keep up with customer demand, and in order to avoid the prohibitive costs of traditional terrestrial backhaul in remote locations.
That notwithstanding, Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) alone is said to have suffered substantial economic losses in recent years due to frequent internet breakdowns that directly affect fixed, wireless, and mobile internet connectivity.
With the United Nations noting that disconnecting people from the internet is a human rights violation and against international law, there is no time to waste anymore in connecting everyone onto the internet.
Rashid Al Hosani, Commercial Manager for Yahsat in Africa noted that as humans, the basic need is the ability and the need to communicate in real time without hitches and how phenomenal is it that today, with the advent of technology, a child in the middle of Soweto, could have access to the same media as a child in Johannesburg, Dubai, or Chicago.
“How amazing is it that a doctor in the middle of a bush in Kenya will have the ability to diagnose and treat patients using satellite communication through the internet with a doctor in Pakistan, India or the USA for that matter,” he asked.
And YahClick should be the satellite provider of choice
Since its launch early this year in Ghana, YahClick –the broadband service of UAE’s satellite operator Yahsat– is hard at work to bring Ghana at par with other countries across the world in Asia, the Middle East, and other parts of Africa such as Kenya and South Africa.
Farhad Khan, Chief Commercial Officer at Yahsat noted that the goal at YahClick is to ensure that the world has a connectivity product that will deliver services to customers who do not have traditional connectivity be it fiber or GSM.
“As a high-performance satellite broadband internet service, which provides reliable, high-speed and cost-effective internet connectivity to communities, businesses and the government, YahClick’s service offers nationwide coverage including connectivity in unserved and underserved communities across the globe,” he said.
Since its first launch in 2012, YahClick has been a game changer for the broadband satellite communications industry. The service uses Ka-band multi-spot beams powered by High Throughput Satellite (HTS) spot beam technology to enable the delivery of improved connectivity at faster speeds to smaller dishes.
Launching along with its service partners Comsys and Teledata, YahClick mission is to provide uninterrupted, high-speed and cost-effective internet connectivity across nations, regardless of the telecommunications infrastructure or geography.
Both Comsys and Teledata are leaders in Ghana’s telecommunications sector, and possess a solid record of delivering innovative communication solutions to a wide range of industries, NGOs, government entities, and communities.
CEO Greg Eid of Teledata ICT added: “We believe that YahClick services will not only successfully meet our customers’ needs, but also open up new business opportunities across various industries. We look forward to working with YahClick to ensure that our customers in Ghana, access uninterrupted and high-speed-Internet that is critical to their growth.”
Comysy Ghana Business Development Manager, Kobi Ahon commented: “Our goal has always been to lead in innovative solutions to tomorrow’s communication challenges in Ghana. By introducing YahClick’s game changing technology to Ghana, we are able to reach the most remote locations with internet connectivity through best-in-class satellite broadband services.”
YahClick covers over 28 countries across the Middle East, Africa, South West and Central Asia and is currently available in 19 countries and following the commercial readiness of the company’s 3rd satellite, Al Yah 3, earlier this year, Yahsat’s footprint has extended to 19 additional markets in Africa.
YahClick is offered through the latest generation of High Throughput Satellites (HTS) that leverage the higher bandwidth available in Ka-band. It was the first satellite service in the Middle East and Africa to offer internet connectivity through Ka-band multi-spot beams, with reusable frequencies that make more satellite capacity available to users at a lower cost.
These high throughput satellites are based on a multi-spot beam payload and are optimized for delivering satellite broadband services. The main advantages over conventional satellites include: smaller antenna size (74 cm); low power radio transmitter driving down equipment costs; and cost effective bandwidth supply due to efficient frequency re-use in spot beams.
The rest are faster and more reliable internet access speeds; in a frequency re-use scheme, the same frequency is re-used numerous times over different geographical areas, much like cellular phone technology (GSM cells); and frequency re-use directly translates into increased throughput.
YahClick delivers a truly cost-effective satellite broadband service, through a modem and an easily installed small satellite dish, and is supported with in-country technical, operational and customer care. YahClick’s flexible and variable service plans are available for different high-speed broadband Internet mainstream markets as well as niche segments which have more specific connectivity requirements including the governmental, eneterprise, and consumer sectors.