Alcatel-Lucent has won a deal in Ghana to roll out what it claims will be the first 4G network in Western and Central Africa.
The operator is to build the network for local operator Surfline Communications (Accra, Ghana), which believes there is a pent-up demand for higher-speed services in the country.
Describing itself as a “data-centric communications provider”, Surfline says it will address national requirements for broadband connectivity that will contribute to Ghana’s social and economic growth.
Following the 4G launch, the operator intends to provide customers with access to services including social networking, internet browsing, email, online gaming, streaming video and video calling.
Alcatel-Lucent (Paris, France) will initially focus on construction in the capital city of Accra before addressing other major cities and ultimately extending the network nationwide.
The equipment maker says the deal is strategically significant as it looks to concentrate on next-generation access technologies.
“Africa represents a major opportunity for growth in ultra-Broadband, and it is a significant part of our strategy to form strategic partnerships with operators like Surfline, who are committed to making a positive contribution to people’s lives,” said Daniel Jaeger, the vice-president of Alcatel-Lucent in Africa.
Despite Surfline’s assessment that Ghana is ready for 4G, the country’s mobile market still appears to be relatively immature compared with those in more developed economies.
Mobile penetration topped 80% at the end of 2011, but only a tiny fraction of subscribers were then using 3G services.
Surfline is also up against some tough competition in the Ghana, with Vodafone (Newbury, UK), Bharti Airtel (New Delhi, India), MTN (Johannesburg, South Africa) and Millicom (Luxembourg) all active in the market besides smaller operators owned by Nigeria’s Globacom (Lagos) and Sudan’s Sudatel Group (Khartoum).
Meanwhile, Rwanda may take issue with claims the deal represents Africa’s first 4G venture.
Last month, the government announced a deal under which South Korea’s KT Corp (Seoul) will inject about $140 million into a new joint venture set up to provide 4G services to most of Rwanda’s population.