Ghana’s only telecoms industry interconnect clearinghouse (ICH), Afriwave Telecom, is now fully connected to all four telcos and carries all interconnect voice and SMS communication traffic in the country. 100 percent interconnect traffic, according to Afriwave, comes to an average of about 600 million minutes of calls month on month.
This means, as of today, any call or SMS going from one network to another in Ghana goes through the ICH before terminating on the intended network. It makes reconciliation between the telcos much easier, and also replaces the hitherto complex peer to peer arrangement. Additionally, at least seven International Wholesale Carriers (IWCs) who operate international gateways that bring in calls from outside Ghana into the country have also connected to the ICH.
Currently, five of the seven IWCs are fully active and route at least 20 percent of all inbound international calls through the ICH, with the rest going directly to the telcos’ networks under different arrangements. Meanwhile, the ICH is also all set to deliver on its other regulatory mandates pending approval of its additional state-of-the-art data centre by the National Communications Authority (NCA).
The ICH was licenced under the Electronic Communications Amendment Act, 2016, Act 910 to provide a wide range of services including, in the main, building and operating a common platform for both domestic, outbound and inbound interconnect traffic between all local service providers, and between international traffic carriers and domestic operators.
It is also to be the single connection point between value added service (VAS) providers in Ghana and telecom operators in the country and their subscribers, plus a myriad of other services within its mandate – including building and operating an Internet exchange point (IXP).
Since starting operations on the back of Act 910, Afriwave Telecom has established two major data centres in Accra and Kumasi to carry interconnect traffic and offer other services.
It started with 40 percent of interconnect traffic, but since September 2021 it has been carrying all domestic interconnect traffic between the four telcos – MTN, Vodafone, AirtelTigo and Glo.
This was possible because Afriwave, in collaboration with technology partner Huawei and some local banks, has built a US$38million facility hosted by globally acclaimed data centre and IXP operator ONIX at their Accra Data Centre.
Indeed, this year, Afriwave went into a strategic partnership with ONIX; and that gives Afriwave access to Ghana’s second Internet exchange point (IXP), also hosted by ONIX, plus a formidable data centre offering with a solar-powered Tier 4 certified facility that is connected to most of the main carriers in Ghana. Afriwave is therefore now well-positioned to deliver a world-class offering of data centre, connectivity, Cloud and Value-Added Services into the Ghanaian and regional market.
Speaking of regional market, the company recently joined the Smart Africa Alliance as a senior member and the first Ghanaian private sector industry player to have done so – with the aim of fostering strategic collaborations across the continent within the framework of the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA).
Other licenced services
Beyond routing interconnect traffic and providing single point connection for VAS providers, the ICH is also mandated to provide more services which have the prospect of creating value for industry players, government and consumers alike. The additional mandate includes the following: Provision of capacity and routing for both IP and TDM-based traffic and to ensure full operability of all networks and service providers in the country; and Connection to Number Portability Services, Banks Switch, and Internet Exchange as and when required.
The ICH is also authorised to connect with any other telecommunications network operated under a licence granted by the NCA; any recognised telecommunications network outside Ghana; any earth-orbiting apparatus in accordance with applicable requirements; and any terminal approved by the NCA.
Meanwhile, nothing in the ICH licence takes away the need to obtain any other licence for the purposes of providing other services that are not covered by this licence, and as may be required under the Electronic Communications Act, Act 775, Electronic Communications Amendment Act, Act 910, or any other enactment.