UAS Policy of the Republic of Ghana
The UAS policy is defined in the section entitled Universal Access to Communications, under the National Telecommunications Policy 2004.
The policy seeks to achieve universal access and universal service for telecommunications throughout all regions and communities, and to achieve a universal service penetration of 25 per cent of the total population, and of 10 per cent in rural areas, by the year 2010.
A particular focus is set on improving the access to telecommunications in schools, health facilities, and community centres.
The universal access target for Ghana is to ensure availability, through broad geographic coverage, of community-based broadband services to include voice, data, and Internet services, and to include local content, and community radio and government services. These services and content must be of high quality and available, affordable for all citizens.
The establishment of multi-purpose telecentres or community media centres in underserved locations is a priority, and so the projects that specifically target such needs shall be given a priority (for instance, through the funding mechanism).
The universal service target (to be simultaneously achieved) is to ensure service and content availability to households or individuals as above, except that this may also include traditional telephony services in addition to broadband.
Approach and Financial Mechanism
Every licensed or authorized operator in Ghana is required to contribute, on an annual basis, to the Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GIFTEL). GIFTEL shall facilitate a partial investment funding for eligible projects in under-served areas. Eligibility is largely based on those policy targets set out above, and funding shall be made on a non-discriminatory basis.
GIFTEL funding is allocated on a competitive basis through an open bidding process. Funds will not be allocated to those locations where commercially viable services are available.
Funds allocated through GIFTEL will only be provided based on the successful assessment of a plan’s long-term financial sustainability. This assessment shall reflect how inclusive the plan is with regard to local stakeholders, and in particular for those who are at a disadvantage.
Specific obligations may be placed on licensed operators in order to help facilitate the policy objectives; this may include specific interconnection responsibilities.
To ensure good governance, GIFTEL, is managed by a joint government-private sector team who have the ability to hire staff at competitive salaries. In addition there is a Board consisting of a similar joint membership, and an Advisory Committee with diverse representation – including members from the community and non-profit sectors.
There is also a provision for the independent, ongoing, monitoring of GIFTEL that ensures that targets are being met.
Structure of the UAS Policy (used in chapter of National Telecommunications Policy)
Title of chapter: Universal Access to Communications
- Principles and Objectives of Universal Access
- Obligations and Responsibilities of Licensed Operators
- Ghana Investment Fund for Telecommunications (GIFTEL)
- Use of Funds
- Monitoring and Evaluation
- Management of GIFTEL