-- As Minister McGill ECOWAS Ambassador Ajisomo, others, Inspect the completed K- NET rural telephony infrastructure
The township of Gbekuta in Bokomu District, Gbarpolu County, was a scene of total jubilation over the weekend when a team comprising representatives from the government, communication service provider (K-Net Telecommunication Company), as well as ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Tunde Ajisomo paid a two-day visit to inspect the Liberia Rural Telephony Infrastructure Project (LRTIP) that is to be commissioned very soon.
The LRTIP is an initiative of the Liberian government through the Liberia Telecommunications Authority/Universal Access Fund (LTA/UAF), and is being implemented by K-NET Limited, a communication service provider headquartered in Accra Ghana, with a subsidiary in Liberia.
The township, practically in a flame of happiness, is poised to break away from the hurdle of digital backwardness and its overly joyous population just cannot wait as the telecom services which they had yearned for over the years, was now few feet from their doorsteps.
However, Gbekuta is about five hours drive from the county capital, Bopolu, and its remoteness has caused it to somehow lag in development.
The installation of a telecommunication tower and its accompanying sub-system equipment and facilities by K-Net in Gbekuta is aimed at bringing much-needed infrastructure and comfort to the citizenry--a development many residents believe will impact their livelihood as it relates to communicating with family members and loves ones. The citizens also believe that the initiative will improve trade, commerce, and education as well as promote social cohesion.
The LTA, through its Universal Access Fund (UAF), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with K-NET in November 2019 for the implementation of a 'Proof of Concept' for the LRTIP to install rural telephone infrastructure in two rural Liberian communities--Parluken, Forpoh District in Grand Kru County, and in Bokomu, District of Gbarpolu County.
Residents of the township of Gbekuta in Bokomu District, Gbarpolu County
K-NET is a telecommunication and technology company that specializes in providing rural telephony services, Satellite teleport services, Data Centre services, Broadcast Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT), and Direct-to-home (DTH) services, E-Commerce, and Mobile- Commerce as well as Network Service Provisioning ( Internet and WAN services).
The K-NET rural telephony approach is a turnkey solution that comprises a Base Station powered solely by Solar energy a complementary Solar Powered Kiosk to charge phones.
K-Net leverages off its Satellite Teleport and data center in Monrovia to provide communications between each remote site with the Mobile Network Operators providing voice and data services.
Residents interviewed by the Daily Observer expressed happiness that they are finally going to be able to communicate with their people outside the District and County.
"It has been hard for us to get in contact with our people and want to tell the Government and the K-Net people thank you for this. No telephone business here. We have to walk long distances before we can find a network signal. So we are really happy about this project. It will really help us," Ma Kweita Flomo said.
The availability of telecommunication services in the region, she said, will help improve their business interactions within the District and the County. Another resident, Borbor Kwabo noted that at least the district will now be connected to the rest of the country through reliable communication.
K-Net Promises efficient services in gbarpolu
The General Manager for K-Net Liberia has promised to provide efficient, reliable and affordable services. Dudley J.F. Eghan said the rural telephony project will bring development activities to the people.
"For now we are waiting for the mobile operators to connect the 2G voice and 4G data services to their networks," said Eghan, adding, "There are so many benefits that come with the rural telephony infrastructure project."
He added that K-Net has the management and technical capacity as it has designed an ITU award-winning rural telephony solution in Ghana and built close to 40 remote sites in the rural areas of Ghana.
"Considering the fact that we have poor roads like this without electricity that is why we are deploying solar energy to power the equipment because there will be no need for people traveling from one village to another to find a generator to charge their phones," he said.
The essence of the rural telephony infrastructure is not just about bringing mobile telephone connection but aslo bringing education to the people. They will have a series of opportunities such as E-learning, E-commerce, especially mobile money," Eghan added.
He further asserted that 'the ICT sector is a sector which cuts across every sector, and this intervention seeks to accomplish amongst other things, the expansion of the mobile communications sector and the provision of ICT platforms in the un-served and under-served areas particularly in rural Liberia.'
The Minister of State, Nathaniel F. McGill who also hails from the county, commended K-NET for their dedicated effort in installing the rural telephony project in Gbekuta in Bokomu District within the time frame and said: "This is in fulfillment of the Pro-Poor Agenda of President George Weah Administration of prioritizing prosperity and development for people especially in the rural areas of Liberia."
Bokomu District Commissioner, Anthony G. Yuosiah, lauded the government, specifically Minister McGill, for his fast sightedness in ensuring that Gbekuta is well connected.
"All along, we have been having the instability of network, our people have been crying and to even send a letter to Monrovia. To even send money to our children is difficult and we had to send it by people and most times they will not even get the exact amount," he said.
Telephonic Service is Mandatory for all Countries
Speaking earlier, ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Tunde Ajisomo lauded the efforts of the Government especially the LTA, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication, LIBTELCO and the Minister of State for Presidential Affairs for ensuring that the rural telephony project Proof of Concept was executed by K-NET to bring relief to people in the rural areas and to ensure that nobody is left behind. He urged the residents of the Gbekuta District to take ownership of the equipment and ensure it is well protected and guarded from intruders. He noted that the rural telephony project brings development to the people in the rural areas and reinforces the "ECOWAS Vision 2020 of promoting ECOWAS of the People as against ECOWAS of member States."
Minister of State, Nathaniel McGill and ECOWAS Ambassador to Liberia, Tunde Ajisomo
Ambassador Ajisomo said, "We are here today to inspect the second rural telephony infrastructure Project that K-Net has successfully installed in Gbarpolu County in fulfillment of the execution of the MoU on Prove of Concept between K-NET and LTA/UAF."
He said, "This is the first time that you are having the highest transmitter in this District and this is to let you know that government is thinking about you, this is also to let you know that ECOWAS is thinking about our Community citizens as everybody in both the urban and rural areas should be connected to telephone infrastructure through the Universal Access Fund (UAF) that has been championed by International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a Specialized agency of the UN that promotes access to telecommunication services for all countries in the world."
Ambassador Ajisomo lauded K-Net Company for their efficient telecommunication services and recalled that they provided Satellite internet services during the Ebola period and provide the Liberia Broadcasting System (LBS) uplink on DTH.
For his part, Gbarpolu County Development Superintendent, Joseph Akoi, said they were excited that such telecommunications infrastructure has come to that part of the country.
Superintendent Akoi expressed sentiments that the Pro-Poor Agenda is now in full effect and will soon begin to impact the people of his county.
He said he is excited because after the installation, teachers and civil servants will now begin to get their salaries through mobile money services; health workers will now begin to effectively contact their colleagues when performing operations and put in for needed drugs through mobile communication.
"The town, 10 years ago, had no motor car road; today it is about to see a modern communication tower go live; trade is set to increase and the economic lives of our people will see a new turn around", Superintendent Akoi stated.