body top image
Issue 7: Overview - Africa

Satellite Communication in Ghana - Challenges and Prospects

Kwasi Boateng

Download the full paper in PDF (748 KB)

Busy Internet is a Ghanaian ISP that uses satellite connectivity to bring Internet to West Africans. The operations of this ISP illustrate the reliability, versatility and efficiency of, VSAT, (Very Small Aperture Terminal) networks in delivering fast broadband Internet services.

issue pic
A section of the Cyber café at Busy Internet's business center in Accra. Source:

This paper discusses technical, economic and regulatory issues relating to satellite networks as a means of bringing Internet to Ghanaians, and the challenges confronting the country's National Communication Authority and the Ministry of Communications.

Waking up to the Call

Satellite communication was not an integral part of the Ghanaian communications system until the early 1980s. Prior to 1981 communication within Ghana and between Ghana and the outside world was not very effective. The country relied on aging Plain Old Telephone Service (POTS) Lines for voice, and terrestrial microwave networks for radio, and television. International voice, video and data communications links were limited, with most of such communications services operated by the government run telecommunications monopoly.

The construction of a satellite earth station at Kuntunse in the Eastern region of Ghana in 1981, and related communication reforms of the early 1990s marked a dramatic shift towards greater use of satellite communications technology over the next two decades. Satellite earth stations and connecting equipment were installed by private and state entities dramatically increasing, voice, data and video services. Today, Ghana operates a fairly opened communication industry, having privatized some institutions, and encouraged both private domestic and foreign investors to participate in the communication businesses. This has resulted in the establishment of firms that provide a variety of voice, video and data services to meet the growing communication demands of the Ghanaian citizenry.

In meeting the needs of Ghanaians in the information age, satellite communications has emerged as a preferred means of Internet connectivity. This is evident in the fact that leading Internet Service Providers (ISPs) such as Network Computer Systems (NCS), Tin-Ifa and Busy Internet rely on satellite to get them connected to the World Wide Web. Busy Internet boasts that it is the fastest broadband Internet service in Ghana. The operations of Busy Internet illustrate how VSAT as a form of satellite communication can help unleash the full potential of Ghana's communications industry through a combination of innovative technologies, good business practices and sensible regulatory policies.


filler image
body bottom image