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Government’s Free Wi-fi project for tertiary institutions takes off

About 13 tertiary institutions are currently hooked to the Free Wi-fi project aimed at enhancing teaching and learning

The Vice President, Dr Mahamudu Bawumia, has commissioned government’s flagship Free Wi-fi Project to tertiary institutions in Accra.

The Tertiary Institutions project, currently anchored on 650 kilometres of the fibre optic network of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG), is part of Government’s ongoing programme to provide Free Wi-fi to all 722 public Senior High Schools, 46 Colleges of Education, and at least 15 traditional Public Tertiary Institutions across the country, 13 of which are in the operational zone of ECG.

The two other public tertiary institutions, University of Development Studies (UDS), Tamale and the University of Energy and Natural Resources (UENR), Sunyani, as well as, the campuses of newly created University Colleges in northern Ghana, fall outside the operational area of ECG and be served by the Northern Electricity Company (NEDCO) in collaboration with GRIDCO and NITA.

The 13 beneficiary institutions are: University of Ghana, Legon; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi; University of Cape Coast, Cape Coast; University of Education, Winneba; Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), Accra; University of Health and Allied Sciences (UHAS), Ho; University of Mines and Technology (UMaT), Tarkwa; and University of Professional Studies, Accra (UPSA).

The rest are Regional Maritime University, Accra; Ghana Technology University College (GTUC), Accra; Ghana Institute of Journalism, Accra; Ghana Institute of Languages, Accra and National Film and Television Institute (NAFTI), Accra.

Speaking at the commissioning of the project at the new campus of the Ghana Institute of Journalism in Accra on Friday, 20 November 2020, Vice President Bawumia noted that when the Akufo-Addo government conceived of the Free Wi-Fi to schools’ project, nobody could have predicted that COVID-19 would make distance learning a central part of academic work at all levels of education, and this visionary move had enabled Ghana’s educational institutions to prepare students for the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

“As disruptive and devastating as COVID is, it has supercharged the need to accelerate high speed internet connectivity to ensure that academic work, commercial transactions, social interactions and other human activities can go on uninterrupted without physical contact.

Enhancing teaching and learning

“The benefits of this Free Wi-Fi Project cannot be over emphasized enough. Lecturers, teachers and students will have access to the necessary educational information to enhance teaching, learning and research in our Universities, Colleges, Senior High and Basic Schools across the country.

“Government is therefore determined to pursue the digitization agenda at all facets of the Ghanaian economy. Government is committed to leveraging ICT technology as a cross-cutting enabler of economic growth, innovation of service delivery and powerful tool of accelerated learning. This commitment is reflected in the sheer number of related digital applications and policy plans that government has adopted in the past 4 years.”

Describing the Free Wi-Fi Project as “a leveler of academic opportunities” and “an equal opportunity window to the world of ‘Internet of Things”, Vice President Bawumia pointed out that a student in a less endowed school will have access to the same academic material available to his or her counterparts in a more endowed school.

“The difference now will be the student’s own ability and discipline to apply him or herself diligently to studies.”

Given the success of this pilot project, Dr Bawumia disclosed that Government is determined to roll out the Free Wi-Fi to cover all tertiary and secondary institutions from next year.

Other beneficiaries

The beneficiary institutions include, but is not limited to all Technical Universities, all Colleges of Education, all Nursing Training Colleges and all Senior High Schools.

“The ongoing Wi-Fi Project in the Senior High Schools, which is being led by the Ministries of Communication and Education, will be accelerated and enhanced through high speed internet connectivity leveraging on the combined fiber optic infrastructure of ECG, GRIDCo, NEDCo and NITA.”

Further activities to be undertaken under the Tertiary project include the provision of 4,800 additional Wi-Fi Access Points (APs) made up of 4,186 outdoor and 614 indoor to the already existing ones in the 13 institutions. Given the average radius covered by each AP, it is estimated that the total radius to be covered by the 4,800 additional APs will be approximately 840km. With this extended coverage area, students, lecturers and the academic community will have access to high speed internet in every strategic facility on the various campuses.

“The Akufo-Addo government is committed to deepening our digital infrastructure, our digital skills and digital entrepreneurship in our effort to build Ghana as a central hub in the sub-region. Government will continue to count on the private sector as we seek to offer more innovative services as well as create more jobs for our youthful population,” he pledged.

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