K-NET, Ghana’s Silent Technology Giant


I recently had the rare opportunity of touring some of the installations of K-NET in Ghana. What I witnessed was often what I see when I visit installations belonging to foreign multinationals who operate here in Ghana. It was refreshing and a moment of nationalistic pride for me to find that all that infrastructure was built and completely run by Ghanaians. In fact in my entire tour, I saw only one expat at K-NET and I learnt that person even works in sales and not part of the engineers and tech people at K-NET.

The tour also gave me nostalgic memories of an interview I did with the Chief Executive Officer of one of the leading non-banking financial institutions (fund management and insurance) in the country some years back. At the time, the CEO was not so enthusiastic about the public limelight, even though I found that his company was such a giant upon whose shoulders a lot of industry players stood and made noise in the media at the time, while his company remained very silent.

Like that giant in the finance industry, I noticed that even though what K-NET does impacts millions of people and several state and private organizations in Ghana and in parts of Africa, K-NET itself has remained off the media spotlight, so much so that their work is often casually attributed to other industry players like telcos and ISPs who make all the noise in the media.

K-NET has been here since 1996, but not many in Ghana know about them well. The few who know K-NET, also have a very limited view of what the company does and how far it reaches. I dare say that a lot of those who know K-NET, only know them for their work in digital terrestrial television (DTT) infrastructure, and the fact that they currently manage Ghana’s DTT platform.

But my one day tour of their selected installations at McCarthy Hills, Akosombo, Ho and Tesano, gave me a completely different picture. I was completely beside myself about how ignorant I had been about K-NET, such that at some point during the tour, I had to exclaim “wow! I did not realize K-NET is such a silent technology giant”.

And that is what K-NET really is – a technology giant that has remained off the media spotlight. The irony here is that K-NET is a major force behind the digitalization of Ghana’s television industry and yet it seldom features on television. It also does so much more in the technology space that not many know about, except the many institutional clients such as telcos, banks, insurance companies, state institutions and many more who serve millions of Ghanaians on the back of infrastructure powered by K-NET.

It was therefore not surprising that at the maiden FIN Awards, which formed part of the first Africa Cashless Payment System Conference in Accra, K-NET was one of two companies that won the highest number of laurels on the night. K-NET emerged as the FIN Technology Infrastructure Backbone Company of the Year and FIN IoT Infrastructure Champion of the Year, while the CEO of K-NET, Richard Hlomador walked away with the Special Award for DTT (Digital Terrestrial Television) Personality.

Team K-NET led my Richard Hlomador Jnr receive their second award

I am sure everyone would easily agree that for Richard Hlomador to win DTT Personality of the Year is a given. But for the two other awards – Technology Infrastructure and IoT Champion, not many have a full grasp of K-NET’s investment and work in those areas.

Dudley Fiifi Eghan (right) receiving the Special Award for DTT Personality on behalf of K-NET CEO, Richard Hlomador

In summary, K-NET is more than just a DTT infrastructure company – it is a telecommunications company and an internet service provider with tremendous institutional knowledge and experience in Information and Communication Technology (ICT) solutions, and specializes in the delivery of innovative communication products and business solutions for use by corporate organizations, government agencies, military and the general consumer public. Its focus is in delivering world-class solutions tailored for the needs of local and international customers in the following service areas;

  • Teleport
  • Broadcasting
  • Wide Area Networks
  • Data Center
  • eCommerce
  • Rural Telephony
  • Solar Power Plants
  • Long Term Evolution (LTE)
  • Private 4G
  • 4G over Satellite and
  • IOT

K-NET has the best teleport service in Ghana using its 11.3m VSAT teleport and hub located at McCarthy Hills in Accra, Ghana, built with state-of-the-art systems for high level service delivery. Its teleport services provide long-term and occasional solutions to broadcast clients in Ghana and parts of Africa, who operate Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) and or Direct to Home (DTH) platforms and channels. My tour took me to that massive teleport hub and it was awesome to behold what a local entrepreneur and Ghanaian engineers have done.

K-NET state-of-the-art Teleport Hub at McCarthy Hill in Accra

Beyond the teleport hub at McCarthy Hill, K-NET also has several points of presence (POP). It is also the first to design and implement a DTT network in Ghana and currently has several DTT Distribution Points across the length and breadth of country, through which it gives Ghanaians access to quality television viewing. There are at least 12 POPs in Accra, and one each in Tema, Takoradi, Tamale and Kumasi; while the company also runs about 40 DTT Distribution Points in several communities all the way from Accra to the north.

National DTT Head-end  

K-NET is also the main force behind Ghana’s National DTT infrastructure and it currently manages the National DTT Head-end at Kanda in Accra. This gives the company 24/7 visibility of what is happening in terms of television viewing experience in all homes and offices across the country in real time. It runs a system that ensures that measures are in place to resolve any emerging challenges remotely and seamlessly. When it becomes necessary to get on the field, K-NET has well equipped vehicles that do test rides in communities and do real time testing and fixing of challenges. But when K-NET engineers fix challenges, people tend to think their respective TV stations did the job.

Dudley Eghan and Richard Hlomador Jnr explaining to Techgh24 editor how things work at the National DTT Head-end

The ubiquity of K-NET, is such that currently, all television stations in Ghana are riding on the K-NET DTT and DTH infrastructure to get into people’s homes, offices, hotels, bars and what-have-you. It means without K-NET, an overwhelming majority of Ghanaians will not even get to watch digital TV.

For instance, everybody know MultiTV. But the operators of MultiTV, which is Multimedia Group, on provide the content. The infrastructure behind MultiTV is for K-NET. That is the power of K-NET.

Beside MultiTV, we have recently seen the HD+ decoder making waves in Ghana. Again, K-K-NET owns majority shares in SES, the company that owns HD+, and the services also runs on K-NET infrastructure, to provide Ghanaian a far better viewing experience in terms of picture quality.

Regarding, DTH, at the last count, some 12 million homes across Ghana and parts of West Africa are receiving direct-to-home services from K-NET. All of that is made possible from their state-of-the-art teleport hub and POP stations across the country, plus similar installations in Togo, Sierra-Leone and Liberia coming up.

Rural Telephony

A typical K-NET solar-powered MRIID Tower in a rural unserved and underserved community in Ghana

K-NET is also very big on rural telephony, and that is something that not many know about. The company works with the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) to provide over 40 solar-powered telecom towers and counting in unserved and underserved communities to ensure the telcos can provide connectivity to those communities at affordable rates.

The innovative and cost-effective K-NET towers called the MRIID (Managed Rural IT Infrastructure Development), provide a very welcoming access to telcos to co-locate at a very affordable rate in areas where ARPU (average revenue per user) is low for telcos. K-NET provides the towers at a monthly fee less than half what telcos pay to other tower companies like ATC Ghana and Helios Towers. This is to encourage telcos to provide services to the rural folks, who would otherwise have been denied connectivity due to the high cost of provision against low revenue.

But more importantly, what MRIID does is it helps the rural folk to be digitally included in the sense that they have access to the connectivity needed to improve economic activities, health, education and many more; and they are also able to fully participate in socio-political issues effectively.

One other thing that people are not too aware of is that, over the years, K-NET has provided Managed Networking and Communications solutions (Data, Voice and Video) to large, medium and small businesses throughout Ghana with an average annual growth rate of nearly 200% year to year. No other primary Data Communications services provider in Ghana has rivalled this achievement.

This is where we deceive ourselves that all the internet services provided to corporate organizations are done by either telcos or the well-known ISPs. But a significant chunk of corporate Ghana access their internet services directly from K-NET because it is more reliable than what a lot of the known ISPs and telcos offer. The proof of reliability of K-NET’s internet services is such that most banks and financial institutions in the country, including Ecobank, use K-NET rather than any other. Banks cannot get it wrong on their digital services, and that is why they use K-NET.

Indeed, the company’s clients are corporate organizations, whose main lines of businesses include banking, mining, TV and Radio broadcasting, publishing, manufacturing, education, governance, and merchandizing.

K-NET has enormous industry knowledge and have worked with some of the leading mobile operators in various capacities, including but not limited to providing support in backhauling GSM traffic from remote rural communities; and also as an ISP providing data connectivity to their subscribers.

As stated above, K-NET is in parts of West Africa, including Liberia. Indeed, when Ebola broke out in 2014, Liberia was the hardest hit on the continent, and several technology service providers, including telcos virtually bailed out on that country, leaving it in digital darkness and no access to communicate with the rest of the world. K-NET was the only technology company that went into Liberia at the time and provided internet connectivity to enable them have access to the rest of the world in that crisis moment.

Silicon House Productions

Shatta Wale hold virtual concert at K-NET event centre at Tesano

Beyond being a massive backend technology infrastructure company, K-NET is also fast becoming a giant in high quality media production, live events hosting, live broadcasting on all platforms (traditional and new media) and more at the Tesano state-of-the-art event centre, where leading Ghanaian Dancehall act, Shatta Wale held his maiden virtual consent during Covid-19 lockdown.

K-NET is working with strategic partners to run the ever popular SILICON HOUSE PRODUCTIONS, to assist the media and broadcasting industry produce and broadcast very high quality content. The production house is a full suit of ultra-modern stages with LED screens for customization of backdrops, PA systems, lighting, musical equipment, opportunity to customize set designs, audience sitting area, changing rooms, green rooms and several other facilities needed for live onsite event and or live recording. It also provides offsite services, where the equipment can be moved to the client’s choice of location.

K-NET has indeed remained the most silent technology and digital industry giant, whose work and solutions impacts almost every Ghanaian and the people’s of other countries but the company has done all this on the quiet.

The company prides itself as the only indigenous technology company that is well positioned to seamlessly power the realization of an integrated ECOWAS. I dare say the K-NET has the tool, expertise and solutions to help Africa leapfrog the hurdles in the way of its digital transformation and bridge the digital divide faster.

So, if you didn’t know, now you know.


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