Rural mobile connectivity: VNL of India looks for partners in Ghana

Indian-based VNL are looking for partners in Ghana to provide affordable solar-powered GSM mobile and Wi-fi connectivity systems to enable telecom operators provide sustainable and profitable service to rural communities in the country.

Telecom operators in Ghana have always complained of the relatively high cost of rural GSM mobile and Wi-fi connectivity due to which they have relegated that role to the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC).

GIFEC is supported by a service obligation fund into which all operators contribute one per cent of their earnings, but GIFEC has not been able to provide nationwide coverage due to the relatively high cost of citing and running cell sites in rural communities.

But the Founder and CEO of VNL, Rajiv Mehrotra tells Adom News that VNL has partnered with some telecom operators to provide several villages in India and parts of Africa with solar-powered systems that would enable those operators to provide mobile and Wi-fi connectivity to rural areas where average revenue per user (ARPU) is less than $2.00

He says the entire system costs only $20,000 to connect a large group of subscribers in a village in one day, adding that with $300,000 an operator can connect up to 10 villages without the hustle of power fluctuation, since it is not connected to the national electricity grid.

Mr. Mehrotra said the solar-powered system costs 60 per cent less to run, compared with the regular base stations that telecom operators use.

He said VNL is already working with three operators in India and three more in Africa will come on board soon.

“We have had serious discussions with an operator in Ghana but nothing has been finalized yet so we are still looking for partners in Ghana,” he said.

Mr. Mehrotra said VNL is also willing to support the GIFEC project to provide co-location base stations across the country at very affordable supply and running cost to help Ghana achieve higher tele-density.

By Samuel Dowuona

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