BY ANTHONY SEDZRO
AfricaOnline Ghana Limited, Ghana’s premier Internet Service Provider (ISP), has added a new range of Information Communication Technology (ICT) products to its portfolio and also a refreshing new brand identity at colourful ceremony held at the plush Tang Palace Hotel in Accra on October 25.
AfricaOnline is a subsidiary of the Gondwana International Networks (GIN) of South Africa, its holding company. AfricaOnline Ghana Limited started operations in 1997, when internet connectivity was just picking up in the country. AfricaOnline’s product offerings include Terrestrial broadband services, VSAT services, Wireless (Wi-Fi) services, MPLS, Leased lines, Value Added Services (VAS), and Voice-Over IP (VOIP). The company today has offices in Accra, Kumasi, Takoradi and Tamale.
The launch had in attendance Edward Ato Sarpong, the Deputy Minister for Communications, officials of the Ministry of Communications, representatives of Gondwana International Network, AfricaOnline’s partners from South Africa, customers of AfricaOnline, staff of the company and the general public.
In his welcome address, Kwadwo Ohemeng Asumaning, the Managing Director of AfricaOnline Ghana, said “it is a known fact that in the Ghanaian ISP market, we used to be not only the market leader, but also the pioneer of ISP in Ghana. Our role in serving the mainly corporate SME and Public customers in the country did help lay and shape the country’s solid foundation in ICT.”
Despite its contribution as the pioneer ISP in the country, there are many other providers in the market today offering different services. Asumaning says the company, which moved its corporate headquarters and data infrastructure to Ridge Towers, Accra last June, has taken some initiatives to reclaim its market position.
“We lost our rightful place at one point, but for the past few months we are poised to reclaim it, hence, amongst other things, we have built a new resilient network on a licensed spectrum. We have also moved our offices and infrastructure to Ridge Towers with the view of better serving our customers,” Asumaning explained.
According to him, Edward Ato Sarpong, the guest of honour, was one of the first employees of AfricaOnline and he rose through the ranks to become the Director of Business Development for West Africa.
Guest of Honour
Edward Ato Sarpong, the Deputy Minister for Communications, disclosed that he was happy to be part of the event because he spent over a decade of his career at AfricaOnline. Sarpong revealed that that it was while he was in the company’s employment that he learnt about the practices and processes of leadership and so he was excited that AfricaOnline was been re-born.
He said in the early days, there used to be over 130 ISPs operating in Ghana but only about eight are in active operation now and so if AfricaOnline is still competing among the eight, it must be doing something right.
Ato Sarpong disclosed that Ghana has gotten its telecommunications voice strategy right with mobile voice subscription well over 100 per cent but it is data subscription which is low. To increase data usage in the country, he says it will take a collaborative effort between the public and private sectors.
“So in order to connect the next two and half million, three million or five million out…, we must get the data and the broadband strategy right. That is where the marriage between the public and private sectors must be right. If we get the marriage right and we are able to consolidate that relationship, then we are in a position to move and get the next 2.5 million, the next five million and hopefully we’ll get 10 million broadband connections across Ghana,” he said.
He said the need to spread broadband connectivity to rural areas to provide jobs made the government to build the Eastern Corridor Fibre Optic Network. The government has plans to also build the Western Corridor Fibre Optic Network and other fibre networks in addition to other fibre networks already in existence nationwide.
Sarpong said he was happy with some of the changes at AfricaOnline.
“I am happy that you have moved from online unlicensed frequency bands to now operating in a licensed frequency environment. What it means is that you are in a position to provide your customers with much better service level agreements, the quality of service you deliver to your end user is expected to be much better than it is today,” Sarpong assured.
He said there were huge opportunities in the broadband space for private actors like AfricaOnline to profitably exploit.
“I always tell people and I am telling AfricaOnline that the opportunities are huge because we have many more challenges than solutions in our country and that is fact. The challenges that we have in our country are so huge that the only way we can confront them is to use the power of technology. That is the only way,” the Deputy Minister advised.
He said next year the Ministry will introduce asset-sharing (co-sharing), domestic roaming and fifth-generation licensing (5G) policies in the country.
Darren Osbourne, the Director of Seven C Limited, a partner company of AfricaOnline based in South,explained that AfricaOnline is not just an ISP provider, but a one-stop shopfor all ICT solutions. He explained some of the new products of AfricaOnline as Archive7 (a comprehensive archiving service that integrates current onsite and offsite backup procedures); Sync7 (provides comprehensive data protection and recovery services), amongst others.
Description of logo and its significance
The new logo of the company was later outdoored by the Deputy Minister and Kwadwo Asumaning. The new brand identity has the ‘Africa’ in the AfricaOnline name in black and the ‘Online’ in yellow. The name is super-imposed on an African map. Asumaning explained that the yellow stands for Ghana’s gold and the white background stands for the bright future ahead of the company. The African map represents the company’s continent-wide footprint represented by iWay Africa.
GIN is a leading African ISP with over 18 years’ experience in the ICT industry and has navigated commercial relationships with third-party service providers to offer its products and services in 44 countries on the African continent. The company operates in other African countries under the brand name ‘iWay Africa’.