Internet Disruption: Gov’t to license Starlink to operate in Ghana

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Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications and Digitalization, has revealed that the government intends to provide a license for Starlink, a satellite internet network, to operate in Ghana.

The Ablekuma West MP made this revelation on Monday during her briefing to Congress regarding the recent internet outage; however, she did not provide a timetable.

According to Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful, the action is a component of the government’s efforts to resolve the internet issue, which has caused hardship for many Ghanaians and businesses.

“We have licensed satellite gateway air stations, landing rights, and satellite air station networks. One web has already been licensed. Starlink is in the process of being licensed and other operators are being encouraged to land in Ghana.

“We must also invest in operationalising RASCOM, the Regional African Satellite Company, instead of each country going alone,” she announced.

In December 2023, the ministry cautioned the public to desist from purchasing items from Starlink because it was not licensed in Ghana.

However, the Minister says it has perform due diligence and is ready to offer an operating license to the company to help improve access to internet.

“A draft framework was subjected to industry consultation and approved by industry. The objective of the framework is to provide increased regulatory oversight for the services, more connectivity solutions or options for consumers, and other measures,” she added.

Acknowledging the services of Starlink was expensive, she assured other players will be engaged to meet the needs of Ghanaians across different economic streams.

“However, I must remind us all that the fee charged by the satellite, low-earth orbit satellite operators like Starlink for hardware and services show that they will cater for high-end value subscribers because they are expensive.

“We’re currently also having discussions about affordable back-haul satellite solutions with all satellite service providers under the auspices of the ITU. This conversation has been ongoing for a while, but I believe what has happened in the recent past will activate and energise these discussions for solutions to be reached soon,” she added.

Prior to the internet blackout, the minister said her outfit did not have the framework for licensing satellites but it has now equipped itself with the requisite knowledge.

“The NCA did not have a framework for licensing satellites but the Authority has in the last year concluded bench-marking and learning from other jurisdictions where this has been implemented. Currently, they have developed a satellite licensing framework in Ghana which has been approved by its board and awaiting the final policy approval.

“This framework will provide the policies and rules relating to the application for frequency authorisations for satellite services in Ghana. It outlines the various categories of satellite services, the licensing requirements, and its associated fees,” she added.

The Minister further advised organisations to take cues from these internet disruptions and store their content, databases, applications, and services in at least two tier-three or tier-four data centers in the country, located at different locations.

Additionally, she recommended making use of the National Data Center as either their primary or backup recovery data host.

 

 

Content by: Akosua Boatemaa

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