Ghana’s Digital Revolution

Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia of Ghana on Tuesday, November 2 delivered a public lecture on the Digitization of the Ghanaian economy at the Ashesi University and followed it up with a question and answer session. Speaking on the topic: Using digitization to transform an economy – the Ghana Story, Dr. Bawumia explained the digitization drive of his government as a 4th industrial revolution and elaborated on how the Akufo-Addo administration is using digitalization to achieve a number of milestones, including addressing social and economic issues in his country.

The event couldn’t have been held at a better place than Ashesi, an institution that has made a name for itself in its relatively short life in the education sector in Ghana. A lively and intelligent question and answer session following the speech enlivened the evening with facts and suggestions that demonstrated that Ghana has a bright future in Information Communication Technology (ICT).

Vice President Bawumia, known in Ghana as Mr. Digitization has led the initiative to transform his country’s economy and so far has put Ghana among the countries seeing the impact of digitization in the world. Since December 2016 when online passport renewals were launched and paperless port system was began in September 2017 a number of digital platforms have been created including the Lands Commission, the Ministry of Tourism and courts system. So far the initiatives have started to show dividends in improved efficiency and transparency of administrative procedures. The figures are there to show as import revenue grew by 3.9 percent in 2018, rising from $2.5 billion to $2.6 billion, according to the Ghana Revenue Authority.

An area that has seen much development in Ghana’s Informational Communication Technology (ICT) sector is the mobile money market with improved access to data. Ownership of a cell phone affords one a less stressful and more efficient process of transferring funds as remittances and payment for goods and services all over the country. This and many more benefits continue to accrue from the adoption of ICT to drive the Ghanaian economy and even more important is the agenda to include the entire population of the country in the process. Called the inclusion agenda, the drive is to ensure that the Ghanaian people, irrespective of education level, place of abode and gender, among others, are all well informed digitally to meet the needs and demands of the modernization process. Not too long ago, in 2014 actually, the government of Ghana physically transported US3.0 million to Brazil during the World Cup after pressure by players to pay their bonuses.

The digitization process is gradually phasing out the built-in incentives for corruption in the civil and public services. What used to drag the administrative system into a slow and ineffective machine incapable of yielding any positive growth for the nation will soon be a thing of the past. Centralized bureaucracy riddled with bribery and corruption inherited from the colonial legacy of centralization, cumbersome structures, procedures and an unnecessarily rigid adherence to certain practices are also being removed and simplified.

Stronger and empowered citizens elsewhere in the developed world fully participate in their national economies. Au contraire, this has been a challenge. Hither to the introduction of the national identity program, a majority of Ghanaians have not possessed any form of formal government identification. This challenge fueled poverty and economic hardship as it prevents citizens from gaining access to government services, limits their participation in the democratic process and contributes to the unequal distribution of the wealth of the nation. The national identification project was designed to solve this problem. The Ghana Card is a complete package that includes the holder’s address, also digital in most cases, age and other personal data. It curtails fraud in the loaning process with the financial sector. According to the Vice President the Ghana Card is also a potential passport.

Digitization enables automation, increases data quality, collects and structures data, among others to enhance advance technology such as smarter software. Fortunately, information technology has been embraced in Ghanaian high schools some of which are making an impact on the world stage winning prizes in artificial intelligence. This is informed by the strides made by the country’s high schools following the introduction of fee-free senior high school.

ICT is actually making an impact in several areas of endeavor. For instance in agriculture, a young farmer has set up a mechanism to water his farm during the dry season. His pumping machine is operated and powered by a program he developed on his computer to control the water pump connected to the dam nearby.

Amandla believes technology is the key to a prosperous and rich future. We also appreciate the genuine and apolitical approach to introduce and include ICT in Ghana’s development agenda. We hope funding would continue to be available to sustain the digitization program. Within digitization lies the potential for more jobs in the private sector. Young entrepreneurs and existing enterprises stand to gain and taxes and more taxes can be generated from them.

Information gathered from the Internet indicates that as at the third quarter of 2019, Ghana counted 16.7 million unique mobile subscribers, 15.1 million smartphone devices and 10.7 million mobile internet users. Invariably this accounts for the 50 percent penetration of ICT in the country.

Amandla hopes to see the 50 percent bettered in the nearest future.

Posted by on Nov 16 2021. Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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