The Minister for Communications, Hon. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has announced that Ghana has secured Three (3) million dollars support from the Norwegian government to support its Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) initiative.
At a virtual signing ceremony in Accra yesterday, the Minister noted that the support received from the Norwegian government would boost digital skills among citizens of Ghana.
The initiative is under the partnership of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Norwegian Government and the Government of Ghana aimed at supporting the Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) in the country.
The new partnership with Norway, according to the Minister for Communications, will scale up and strengthen digital skills training for underserved communities in Ghana.
According to her, the collaboration is being done with Cisco and the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) which is the implementing agency.
“It will provide around 14,000 citizens with job-ready digital skills, in particular women entrepreneurs, pupils, teachers and marginalized groups, through 200 centres across the country,” she said.
“Who would have thought that digital technology would prove to be the glue that held our world together, enabling the virtual living, education, business engagements, conferences and other events of our daily lives to be held safely and efficiently?” she asked.
She averred that the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that digital technology is indeed the foundation of modern living, and expressed great satisfaction at Ghana government’s initiatives that have facilitated ICT infrastructure development, provision of equipment, and capacity building programmes over the past 3 years which have made a positive impact on the lives of individuals and institutions across the country.
She said: “Since 2017, The Ministry of Communications, through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), has provided telecommunications connectivity to over 2,000 communities as part of the flagship Rural Telephony Project, enhancing the socio-economic lives of over 1,200,000 citizens in rural Ghana.”
The Ministry she indicated, is in the process of expanding access to an additional 2016 communities to connect some 3 million people thereby providing 95% of our population with voice and data connectivity within the next 18 months.
According to her several initiatives have been made in expanding access to ICT including capacity building of persons in both the formal and informal sector, training of 502,600 people in ICT programmes, 182,000 children trained through the Coding for Kids project.
She also averred that training was given in ICT Skills for Entrepreneurial and Women Empowerment project, in collaboration with UNESCO, to provide ICT skills for women and girls in the informal sector where 400 women have been trained in, Goaso, Berekum and Asankrangwa.
Ursula Owuwu-Ekuful said, despite these efforts to facilitate the expansion of ICT to rural areas, there is still a wide digital skill gap between citizens in the urban and rural areas.
She therefore commended the ITU for including Ghana in the Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) programme, which will facilitate the development of digital skills for citizens mainly at the basic and intermediate level.
The initiative, she indicated is part of a broader goal of building an inclusive digital society where lack of digital skills will not be a barrier to participation in the digital economy.
“We are especially grateful to the Norwegian government for their support for this programme, and to Cisco for the provision of content for the training. Providing all our citizenry with ICT skills is fundamental for socio-economic development, these skills will enable the beneficiaries to learn how to use ICT as both a tool and facilitator of progress and financial independence,” she maintained.
She also noted that the fundamental goal of President Akufo-Ado is to see a digitized nation and that without the requisite digital skills, the bulk of the Ghanaian population would be unable to enjoy the benefits of the many digital interventions undertaken by the government to formalize the economy, promote greater efficiency, and transparency and reduce corruption.
Ghana has the second highest data penetration rate and the fastest growing mobile money market in Sub-Saharan Africa according to Oxford Business Group.
She said: “It is therefore imperative that we scale up efforts to ensure that these developments are available in, within the reach of and experienced by everybody living in any part of the country, if indeed, we are to leave no one behind as we desire.”
Launched by ITU in partnership with Cisco and its Country Digital Acceleration Program and Cisco Networking Academy in 2019, the Digital Transformation Centres (DTC) Initiative is operational in nine countries in Africa, Asia-Pacific and Latin America.
Its main goal is to support countries to equip people with the skills needed to effectively participate in today’s digital society and economy.
It targets people who need basic digital skills to use digital tools and access e-services and those who seek to enhance their basic and intermediate skills.
The new partnership with Norway will help Digital Transformation Centres, in particular in Ghana, to accelerate building an inclusive digital society, to ensure that lack of knowledge and skills is not a barrier to participation in the digital economy, and to contribute to the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.