Ghana was one of the first countries in Africa to liberalise and deregulate its telecommunications sector. Following the privatisation of Ghana Telecom in 1996 there was very rapid growth in market competition across the mobile, internet and fixed-line sectors, with a number of new players being licensed to offer services. Ghana Telecom, now owned by Vodafone Group, is the principal fixed-line provider and also the second largest player in the mobile services segment. The second national operator, Westel, was also re-privatised, in 2007, becoming a member of the Zain Group, one of Africa’s leading mobile operators, before being sold to Bharti Airtel in 2010.

The arrival of two submarine fibre optic cables in 2012 and 2013 significantly increased international bandwidth and with it reduced the cost of access to broadband services. In addition, Google has built a fibre network covering the major cities through which it provides cheaper access to ISPs on a wholesale basis. These developments, combined with the roll out of national fibre backbone networks by a number of players, are continuing to revolutionise the country’s broadband market and pave the way for the convergence of technologies and services.

Ghana has one of the most vibrant mobile markets in Africa. The first cellular mobile network in sub-Saharan Africa was launched in the country in 1992. There are currently six competing operators, including the regional heavyweights MTN, Vodafone, Bharti Airtel (formerly Zain) and Millicom (Tigo). The entry of Nigeria’s Globacom as the sixth player in 2012 delivered further competition to the mix. Although subscriber growth has been strong in recent years, particularly in 2015, competition has resulted in lower Average Revenue Per User (ARPU) and consequently operators have seen stagnant revenue growth. While the voice market is saturated, there is enormous potential in mobile broadband services, both in terms of subscriber additions and in mobile data ARPU. Mobile broadband already accounts for the vast majority of internet connections in the country.

Ghana was among the first countries in Africa to be connected to the internet, and one of the first to launch DSL services. The sector is highly competitive, with more than 140 licensed ISPs although most subscribers are customers of only a few players.

Internet user growth was for many years held back by the poor condition of the national fixed-line network and by the high cost of connectivity. However, following the introduction of wireless and 3G mobile and wireless broadband technologies such as HSPA and WiMAX, and latterly by LTE, the sector has in recent years developed rapidly. In addition, the arrival of a further two international fibre links in 2012 and 2013 led to a dramatic fall in the cost of international bandwidth, and so to the price of retail access. The government has also invested in building extensive fibre infrastructure in the Eastern and Western Corridors. The re-privatised national carrier, Ghana Telecom, under the Vodafone Ghana banner, has also been more effective in driving the broadband market by expanding its retail and wholesale offerings.

For more information see – Ghana - Telecoms, Mobile, Broadband and Digital Media - Statistics and Analyses