Government is committing US$2.6million to establish innovation centres across the country to equip about 3,000 Ghanaians with digital literacy by next year.
With this, government hopes to further bridge the country’s yawning technology usage gap, says deputy Communications and Digitalisation Minister, Ama Pomaa Boateng.
Ms. Pomaa Boateng also stated that government through the ministry entered into an agreement with the Smart Africa Alliance through the Smart Africa Digital Academy to train up to 22,000 people by end of this year.
“Government is not relenting on its promise to ensure that no one is left behind,” she stated during this year’s World Telecommunication and Information Society Day (WTISD), organised by the National Communications Authority (NCA) under the auspices of the Communications and Digitalisation Ministry.
The global theme for this year’s celebration is ‘Empowering the least developed countries through Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs)’. However, Ghana’s adopted theme is ‘Public-private partnership to improve connectivity’.
Globally, it is estimated by the United Nations and International Telecommunication Union (ITU) that over 2.7 billion people in the world are unconnected.
Ghana’s digital ecosystem is however one of the best-performing sectors in the country, growing on average by 19 percent annually between 2014 and 2020, said the World Bank.
Currently, Ghana is among the digital leaders in sub-Saharan Africa, and the Digital Economy diagnostic conducted in 2020 identified key bottlenecks that need to be removed to further accelerate the country’s digital transformation, the World Bank stated.
Highlighting continuous investment in efforts to bridge the country’s digital divide, the deputy minister said government “made it a priority to invest in ICT infrastructure to ensure universal connectivity”.
As a result, the country has extensive coverage of land-fibre, through efforts by government and the private sector, to serve as a backbone for broadband deployment.
“We also benefited from 5 international sub-marine cables at our shores. To further bring connectivity to the doorstep of every citizen, the ministry through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communication is implementing the Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project (GRT&DIP) – dedicated at providing voice and data services to underserved and unserved communities in the country,” she said.
This notwithstanding, Ms. Pomaa Boateng said more investments are needed to ensure everyone has access to information communication technology tools. “Citizens must have access to devices in order to interact meaningfully and also transact public and private services online without any barriers,” she said.
The Deputy Director-General for Technical Operations at the NCA, Prof. Ezer Osei Yeboah-Boateng, said looking at Ghana’s journey so far in ICTs, connectivity and digitalisation, it is in the right direction that the country supports efforts to assist Least Developed Countries (LDCs) connect to the world.
“It was therefore in good faith that Ghana pledged its support during the ITU’s launch of the Partner2Connect Campaign; a project that seeks to accelerate universal and meaningful connectivity in the hardest-to-connect communities,” he stated.
LDCs are described as low-income countries confronted with severe structural obstructions to sustainable development – with poor infrastructure and income inequality, irrespective of their per capital gross domestic product.
They are also farthest behind in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations (UN) to end extreme poverty, reduce inequality and protect the planet.
Currently, there are 46 countries in the world – including Burundi, Liberia and Central Africa Republic – that have been declared by the United Nations as LDCs.
The Board Chairman at NCA, Isaac Emmil Osei-Bonsu Jnr – who spoke on behalf of the ITU General-Secretary, said empowering LDCs to connect with the rest of the world is a collective responsibility, requiring public-private collaboration and partnerships.
“Together we can make 2023 a year of unprecedented digital development in the least developed countries; and create a truly universally connected world where everyone, everywhere shares in the benefits of technology,” he stated.