MainOne Cable Company has plugged into West Africa’s internet highway with the goal of providing seamless integration of businesses with offices in Nigeria and Ghana, thereby promoting trade relations and boosting economic growth of the sub-region.

Speaking at the Ghana-Nigeria Business Sector conference in Lagos, weekend, Funke Opeke, chief executive officer of the underwater cable firm said that the initiative is driven essentially by utter reason that Nigeria and Ghana share similar business models and are leading economies in West Africa. “West Africa’s real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth was 6.2 percent in 2011. The growth is largely driven by Ghana and Nigeria that share similar language, culture and practice.

“They have similar business opportunities with great potentials for regional integration of businesses. So, we are creating awareness with our solution on how to harness these potentials for optimal growth”, she stated. Joseph Odoi, country manager, Main One Cable Ghana told the conference that the firm has extended its operations to Togo by virtue of an interconnection through Ghana and is currently servicing the Republic of Benin from Nigeria. According to him, plans are already underway to extend services to landlocked areas such as Republic of Burkina Faso and Senegal.

He disclosed that the firm was currently engaging ONATEL, the national exchange carrier of Burkina Faso and SONATEL, principal telecoms provider of Senegal.

This is with a view to forging strategic alliances that would enable MainOne leverage their existing terrestial fibre backbone to move bandwidth capacity across the region. Analysts at the conference expressed optimism that the move would deepen the integration of regional markets as well as open up of new business opportunities through the provision of cross-border connectivity. According to them, cheap and accessible bandwidth would allow access to both knowledge and opportunities. This would in turn help large numbers of West Africans increase their potential to succeed. “We are connected into West Africa’s internet highway. MainOne’s connection into Togo is via NCBC and MTN’s West African Terrestial networks.

“The challenge has been the francophone divide. We have built strong relationships with TOGOTEL, ONATEL and SONATEL. We are committed to building a regional network that would not only assist service providers deliver higher quality services but lower the cost of data and voice communications for enterprises and businesses with regional offices”, he added.

Odoi revealed that Main One had connected Internet Exchange Points (IXPs) in Ghana and Nigeria respectively to encourage local peering. Local peering entails allowing service providers to interconnect with the telecom network thereby enabling the exchange of internet traffic within the countries respectively. “This is very critical to reduction of communications cost.

“This is because there is no need for carrying local traffic to a distant handover point and back again. “There is no charge for local traffic exchange.” Odoi however alluded to the importance of broadband connectivity in the creating job opportunities and transforming the economies of West Africa.

Oando and EcoBank are already taking advantage of MainOne’s cross-border network to improve business efficiency and productivity across the West African sub-region.

“Over the last two years, MainOne has connected Accra to Lagos. But there are two countries in-between Accra and Lagos and that’s Benin and Togo. There are monopolies in these countries but we wanted an International Private Lease Circuit (IPLC) straight from site to site.

“Today, we now have circuits from Accra – Lagos, Accra – Lome, Accra-Cotonou all the way to our data centre in London. We are working towards connecting Burkina Faso and Guinea”, Tunji Alabi, group head for technology infrastructure of EcoBank said. According to Alabi, “We do a lot of regional trade but it is below the counter because there is no telecoms infrastructure to account for this trade.”

The company’s state-of-the-art open access wholesale international connectivity and broadband capacity will ensure day to day consolidation and back-up connectivity, foster internet adoption and provide communication services to internet service providers, enterprises and government institutions in West African countries.

Culled from: businessday