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Asia’s richest man uses Ghana as springboard into Africa

By , Senior contributor
Africa , Ghana , 30 May 2024
Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries.(Pic credit: World Economic Forum)
Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries.(Pic credit: World Economic Forum)

Mukesh Ambani, Asia's richest man, is making his move on the African telecoms sector, using Ghana as a springboard.

Ambani has chosen the appealing Ghana market as his entrance point into Africa's enticing digital revolution.

The West African country said this week that it will deliver affordable 5G mobile broadband services by the end of 2024 in partnership with Radisys Corporation, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited, which is owned by Ambani.

Ghana, with a population of 33 million and 24 million internet users, or 70% penetration, remains an appealing market for Radisys, a Jio Platforms firm. Jio Platforms manages Reliance Industries' telecom and digital properties.

Jio has been providing economical telecom services in India since 2016, offering low-cost broadband and free voice calls. This strategy has forced some competitors to shut down and others to merge.

With 470 million customers, it is now India's largest mobile operator.

Nokia, Tech Mahindra and Digital Ascend are the other main strategic partners who have joined forces with Ambani's business.

The collaboration intends to introduce digital services in education, healthcare, and digital payment transactions via P2P (peer-to-peer), P2M (peer-to-merchant), and M2M (merchant-to-merchant) platforms.

Ghana's telecoms environment is currently controlled by three major players: MTN Ghana, Vodafone Ghana, and the state-owned AT Ghana (previously AirtelTigo). Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Ghana's minister for communications and digitalisation, commented on the collaboration with Radisys, saying they are inspired by India's digital infrastructure and low-cost mobile data usage and hope to duplicate it in Ghana.

“It will provide affordable mobile broadband services and devices to the people of Ghana, replicating the success of India's low-cost mobile data revolution,” she said.

The public-private partnership deal will see Radisys Corp provide key network infrastructure, applications and smartphones for Ghana-based Next-Gen InfraCo (NGIC) to spearhead the project.

NGIC plans to start work in the next six months and has committed to invest $145 million into Ghana’s infrastructure, applications and smartphones in the next three years. It has been granted a 15-year license to provide 5G services in Ghana, with a potential for another 15-year extension.

Harkirit Singh, CEO, Ascend Digital and Executive Director, NGIC, said, “NGIC intends to launch its wholesale 4G/5G network-as-a-service and make it available to all mobile network operators within the next six months. We have proven the strengths of our partners – Radisys, Nokia, and TechM, to scale the network and deliver affordable mobile broadband services to all Ghanaians.”

Minister Owusu-Ekuful added: “The creation of a shared 5G mobile broadband infrastructure is critical for delivering affordable, high-speed data access to the people of Ghana and help achieve our Digital Ghana vision. The creation of NGIC as a neutral, shared platform, accessible to all mobile network operators and tower companies, will help to expand 5G services rapidly across the country.”

Radisys CEO Arun Bhikshesvaran said connectivity for all, through use of open and disaggregated multi-access solutions, is a key component of his company’s initiatives to bridge the digital divide.

“By bringing fixed wireless access alongside 4G and 5G cellular services to help drive economic growth and digital inclusion, Radisys looks forward to helping Ascend and NGIC build a disruptive and affordable shared broadband infrastructure across Ghana,” he said.

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