General News of Saturday, 15 December 2018
Minister of Communications, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has described the opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) as an ‘old school’ party in the modern digital economy.
She said this on Thursday, December 13, 2018, in Accra during the Information Ministry’s Meet the Press Series.
The meeting was to afford her the opportunity to present the performance of the Ministry of Communications to Ghanaians.
Her comment was in direct response to an argument raised by the NDC on Wednesday, December 12, at the maiden edition of its “Moment of Truth” Series that Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia had moved from the field of economics to technology.
Asked what she made of the argument raised by the NDC, the Minister said without mincing words that “for my friends in the NDC, they may be old school.”
She tasked those criticizing the President Akufo-Addo’s government for focusing much attention on Information Communication Technology (ICT) development to “Google the link between technology and economic development.”
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful appeared to suggest that the NDC was virtually clueless about how communication technology is positively driving socioeconomic development globally.
The Minister told journalists that the New Patriotic Party (NPP’s) administration has made significant progress in formalizing the Ghanaian economy through the use of technology and that going forward, the agenda to further digitize the economy will be “non-negotiable.”
Technology, she stated, will be at the heart of government’s efforts of moving Ghana Beyond Aid.
According to her, “we have been busy and will continue working to help the public and private sectors scale up the use of technology at all levels to help this country leapfrog development.”
She stressed that “the formalization of our economy is going on a good pace through the use of technology and we will continue to utilize it to help with revenue generation, collection and accountability.”
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful explained that “there is an indelible link between ICT and economic development and our President, Nana Akufo-Addo, being keenly aware of this, has directed the Economic Management Team led by Vice President Alhaji Dr. Mahamadu Bawumia to explore its full potential.”
The NPP administration’s digitization agenda, she indicated, “is driven by the need to quickly modernize our processes, through technology and right skill for our people to drive economic growth.”
Steps To Formalize
She mentioned the national identification project, digital property address system, paperless port operations, mobile money interoperability and digital financial services, digitization of revenue collection and land administration as some of the deliberate steps being taken by government “to strengthen the foundations of our economy and formalise it.”
Touching on some of the achievements government has made so far, she said “our efforts have been recognized and Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has been invited to co-chair the EU-AU Digital Economy Task Force with Mr. Pierre Guislan, Vice President of the African Development Bank. It will be launched next week.
According to her, “Survey 2018 clearly demonstrated that Ghana is the only African Country which transitioned from a medium to high E-Governance Development Index (EGDI) out of 17 since 2016.”
She added that “there are only 6 African countries in the High EGDI group. We achieved this feat in 2017-2018 by streamlining our institutional and policy framework to capitalize on ICT innovations and invested in improving online service delivery. Our ICT strategy focuses on increased use of ICT across economic sectors, e-government, implementing the national electronic security system and many other ICT related projects for public benefit.”
She indicated that various projects have been implemented by the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) and the National Communications Authority(NCA), among others.
Again, as part of promoting a digital society, she said “five hundred disadvantaged youth in the Greater Accra Region have been trained in Call Centre skills, basic IT training, Microsoft office suite, BPO skills and Digital marketing.
She explained that “this programme has afforded vulnerable people with potential from low income communities some opportunity in the basic digital and ancillary jobs available at the Accra Digital Centre and the wider Tech Ecosystem. We will replicate this in other regions.”
Girls in ICT
About 600 girls from selected public basic schools in six districts of the Ashanti Region, she said, were this year selected for a fourteen (14)-day capacity building training in coding and programming as well as an ICT mentorship programme.
ICT infrastructure Development
She indicated that the Communications Ministry and all its agencies were committed to providing the necessary infrastructure to support the government’s digital agenda.
According to her, to provide more efficient delivery of government services, reduce corruption and enhance transparency, a number of electronic services were being implemented under the e-transform project funded by the World Bank, to increase efficiency, accountability and responsiveness.