The Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Ken Ashigbey, has asked President Nana Akufo-Addo to assent the Cyber Security Bill which will give the telecoms industry the authority to sanction persons or groups who damage telecommunication infrastructure.
According to him, this will help address the issue of fibre cuts which end up affecting the quality of internet service or connection in the country.
Data from the telecoms industry association shows that in 2019, the mobile industry experienced over 2,000 incidents of fibre cuts and 600 incidents of theft at base stations affecting over 18 million subscribers within the first half of 2019 alone.
The same data showed that in the same year, fibre cuts caused mainly by private developers, road contractors, unknown criminals and other utility providers cost the industry over GH¢30 million in direct repairs only.
Mr. Ashigbey, speaking to Citi Business News, bemoaned the issue of fibre cuts in the country due to the construction of roads.
“With fibre cuts, we are not out of the woods yet. It’s a major challenge that is still affecting us. Because of the Year of Roads, there are some challenges around that. There is a new road that is being done on the beach road, and we’ve had major challenges with the contractors who are working on the site. We had to even escalate the issues to the National Engineering Coordination team and there was a meeting held to look into that. I would say that coordination has improved but there is still a lot more that is desired.”
He continued, “Fortunately for us, the government has passed the Cyber Security Bill, and we are waiting for the President to assent it. In that, there are regulations that will come up that will classify telecommunications infrastructure as critical information infrastructure for which people who wilfully damage them will have dire repercussions.”
The situation in Ghana
Fibre optic cables have aided the connection of platforms for improved service delivery by telecom operators.
However, the challenge of dealing with their regular destruction and theft of fibre and copper cables by construction companies and private citizens has left most telecom operators worried.
Vodafone Ghana recently revealed that it spends an average of GH¢1.8 million annually in fixing interruptions caused by cable cuts and thefts.
According to the Chief Executive Officer of the company, Patricia Obo-Nai, fibre cuts has affected 2.3 million of its customers so far this year.
MTN Ghana also spent GH¢2 million cedis to repair fibre cuts while GH¢4.4 million was spent on the relocation of fibre optic cables in the first quarter of 2019.
According to the Regulatory Manager of MTN, Samuel Bartels, 56 percent of fibre cuts were caused by road construction and government agencies such as the Ghana Water Company Limited, Ghana High Authority and the Urban Roads Department, while 35 percent was by private developers.
It is for this reason that the management of the company hinted of a legal suit against private developers and road contractors who persistently cause damage to their fibre optic cables.