In November 2008, Parliament approved a $30 million concessionary loan facility that has been extended to the government of Ghana by the government of China for the construction of the initial phase of a nationwide e-Government infrastructure for Ghana. The proposed infrastructure would extend the national backbone infrastructure to all districts in the country and provide a national data centre and a secondary data centre facility for disaster recovery capability, and ultimately connect all public institutions and MDAs and MMDAs to a single shared communications and computing infrastructure to facilitate effective delivery of government services to citizens, businesses and others.
The local subsidiary of the leading Chinese telecommunications equipment manufacturer, Huawei Technologies (GH) S.A. Ltd. has been indicated as the implementing contractor for the project, which will be delivered on a turnkey basis to the government of Ghana. The Ministry of Communications subsequently tasked NITA with the responsibility of working with Huawei to realise the implementation of the project.
Under the proposal for an e-Government network to be built by Huawei, the network is configured to reach up to 1050 sites around the country; 550 locations via wireless last mile access networks and an additional 500 locations via any other means. The target sites are intended to be reached via several different means, including direct fibre optic connectivity, High capacity microwave links, VSAT access over the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP) VSAT network and leased terrestrial circuits from local telecoms and ISP providers. This will enable the network to connect not just the district assemblies, but Hospitals, Schools, Police stations, agric extension service offices, and any other public office or institution in all the towns that are within the coverage areas of the network.
THE PROJECT OBJECTIVES
NITA have developed a deployment strategy for achieving the stated policy objective of reaching all 170 districts in Ghana, and working together with the implementing contractor, Huawei, finalised a design for the national e-Government network to ensure that the network will serve the widest possible diversity of Ministries Departments and Agencies as well as Quasi-Government Institutions, Organisations, and Corporations. The network infrastructure solution as proposed will deliver the following:
The eGovernment network infrastructure will be built upon previous investments by the Ministry of Finance in fibre optic connectivity between key MDAs in Accra, and will utilize capacity from the national communications backbone company, (NCBC) which is now a part of Vodafone Ghana.
The network infrastructure will in addition to fibre optic capacity, include wireless last mile connectivity over most of Accra, all the regional capitals in the country, and up to ten (10) additional municipal and district capitals that are located in close proximity to the national fibre backbone.
The network will provide a single secure gateway to the internet and implement services such as access control, spam filtering, firewalls and anti-virus defences for the government network as a whole and between the individual MDAs as may be required.
Government, through the MoC and NITA’s facilitation, will negotiate bulk rates for acquiring leased lines from the local telecommunications operators and ISPs for the links from each district to the national fibre backbone.
- The proposed solution will be achieved by building new infrastructure as well as deploying new equipment into the existing networks and fibre optic assets in the ground that were previously procured by the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning.
The proposed solution will allow much higher bandwidth links to each district than MoC or GoG could otherwise afford from the commercial telecommunications service providers.
INTERNET PROTOCOL (IP) BACKBONE
In order to link all the 15 towns and cities that will have WiMAX coverage, the network will be built on an IP backbone that will run over the infrastructure of the National communications backbone company (NCBC), the subsidiary of Vodafone Ghana which manages the national fibre optic backbone infrastructure. The IP backbone will initially operated at the speed of Gigabit Ethernet (GE), and should support easy expansion to 10 Gigabit Ethernet speeds.
The figure above shows the WIMAX BTS physical layout across the regions in Ghana.
While the Metro Area Network in Accra will consist of a fibre optic network as well as a WiMAX Wireless access network overlay, the Metro Area Network in all the Cities except for Accra will be wholly Wimax based as shown in the following figure:
THE DISTRIBUTION OF WIMAX COVERAGE
The e-Government network will provide WiMAX coverage over the following district municipal and metropolitan assemblies as part of the project:
· Ga East District
6. Cape Coast
· Cape Coast
FIBRE OPTIC METRO AREA NETWORK (MAN)
The Ministries area of Accra is already served by several miles of fibre optic cable networks which will be fully leveraged to deliver a state-of-the-art converged high speed metropolitan area network, connecting virtually all the ministries and several key departments and agencies. The existing fibre optic resources will be terminated with new Huawei equipment that will implement a highly resilient ring based network topology that will run at a 10 Gigabit speeds as shown below
The figure above shows the Logical layout of the Optical Fibre Metro Area Network.
The figure above depicts the Physical layout of the Fibre Optic Metro Area Network.
LOCAL AREA NETWORK (LAN)
As part of the project, the Local Area Network (LANs) for all the MDAs will be upgraded and redesigned to meet the technical requirement of the new Infrastructure. There will be several new deployments of additional LAN ports and Wi-Fi LANs in selected MDAs across the country which will support both voice and data applications and content on the government network to improve efficiency and productivity in daily activities in all the MDAs in the country.
The new LANs and upgrades have been designed with security, resilience and ease of management as the cardinal principles. With the implementation of the new LAN layouts, all computing resources, application servers and applications such as antivirus, document management and email, etc will be housed at the Data Centre for professional support, management and performance monitoring.
The figure above shows the VLAN implementation layout for all the MDA sites.
The Data Centre facility is a crucial feature of the e-government communication infrastructure network. This is because the entire government network will be served with eGovernment applications from this facility, and all the critical equipment and applications will be housed in the data centre as well. The data centre will host many new applications as well as some applications that are currently being developed as pilot projects by GICTeD and other government t agencies.
The Data Centre will house several racks of computing equipment, including high performance servers, fibre channel disk storage and backup storage systems, and sufficient power conditioning and availability resources to keep the data center running perpetually, with or without mains power. The implementing contractor, together with support from GICTeD will be responsible for recruiting and training a team of engineers to operate maintain and support clients on this huge nationwide infrastructure for the Government of Ghana for a period of 18 months.
From the Data Centre, the various MDAs will be provided with email, antivirus, document management systems initially, and more of such utility applications over time, to ensure structured and simplified work flow between and among the MDAs. Active Directory services will also be provided from the data center to the various MDAs, though at the Organisational Unit (OU) level, the directory will be managed through the local system administrators.