Thursday afternoon, I walked over to the Lartebiokorshie campus of Regent University to listen to Prof. Steve Squyres of Cornell speak on the Mars Rover expedition. Turns out his elder daughter is visiting Ghana while a student at NYU, and one of the Rover drivers is a Ghanaian in the diaspora who was a classmate of a lecturer at Regent. A great talk, followed by some inspirational comments made by the provost and president of the college to the effect that with "Spirit" and "Opportunity" you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Dr. Squyres let me have a copy of his presentation which I shared with Chip and Ken that evening.
On my way over, I passed an unusual scene - dozens of Ghanaian men working with picks and shovels, digging a four-foot deep trench all along the road, preparing to bury a fiber optic line for MTN, the multinational African telco that sponsored the recently completed Africa Cup of Nations 2008 soccer tourney in Ghana.
The contrast of seeing people selling used clothing, tropical fruits, and repairing appliances adjacent to a high-tech telecom installation was jarring. You have the open gutters clogged with water sachets and rotting peels, dirt and dust. And of course, all the PVC water and drain pipes which were chopped open by the workers and then patched back up. Reminded me of the time BellSouth was trying to lay fiber in our Briers North neighborhood back in Atlanta, and they seemed to hit water and gas lines even with them supposedly being marked ahead. The idea of marking such lines in Ghana is ludicrous to even consider.
Having worked in a factory where we made such cables, I tried to see what brand they were pulling, but was not able to make it out.
After the stories in the newspapers about the Electric Company of Ghana not being able to keep copper cables in stock (they are stolen from locked storage areas and hocked for the copper inside!), I was interested to see what techniques MTN would use to keep people from stealing their fiber cables.
As you can see, they worked it from both ends: HIGH POWER LASER INSIDE-- DOES NOT CONTAIN COPPER.