Project Management

Re-Assessing Long Distance Wireless for West Africa

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Executive Summary

This paper describes the experiences deploying long distance, point-to-point WiFi links in Ghana and Guinea Bissau, focusing on several challenges that are somewhat unique to these countries and this region of the world. In particular, the high cost of transportation, lack of locally produced materials and goods, shortage of technically trained labor, and poor power infrastructure all contribute to an abnormally high cost of building terrestrial networks, especially with comparison to other developing countries such as India. In addition, the highly regulated and monopolized telecommunications sector in Ghana results in market failures even when good infrastructure such as fiber optic backhaul networks exists. These challenges mean that low cost equipment is not enough to catalyze rural telecommunications deployments.

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