Graphic Business News

Govt will support local IT entrepreneurs — Comm Minister

By: Charles Benoni Okine, Washington DC

The government will use its purchasing power to protect the interest of domestic entrepreneurs, particularly ICT application developers, to enable them to develop products fit to help solve local problems, the Minister of Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has assured.

The move, she said formed part of efforts by the government to actualise the local content policy within the ICT industry and to offer more opportunities to the youth in the sector to unearth their talents.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said this in an interview with the Graphic Business at the just ended 2018 Spring Meetings in Washington DC.

The communications minister who was earlier on a special select panel to discuss ICT development in Africa on the theme; “Digital Economy for Africa”, subsequently urged the international community not to view the position of the government as denying foreign companies access to do business in the country.”

“They rather have to see it as a way of developing local capacity to solve local problems and ensure accelerated development and not a tool to discriminate against them”, she said.

Making reference to the development of the local national address system and the National Identification project, she said, the companies selected have proven their worth “and we need to encourage many more to help come up with solutions to address our challenges”.

The award of major contracts on ICT projects to the local firms in the country by the government has been loudly applauded by many as a positive step towards building local capacity  to compete on the international stage.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said “what our young men and women in the ICT sector develop are or high standard and can be comparable to any or even better than what pertains in the so called developed jurisdictions”.

“They help us address complex national challenges and we are confident that the more we give them that opportunity, the better they can become”, she added.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the government had plans to develop ICT parks in all the regional capitals in the country as part of measures to ensure that local talent is unearthed in every part of the country.

She urged the youth in the industry to patronise the incubation centres in the country presently while efforts were being made to develop more for their use.

Panel discussion
Earlier during the panel discussions, it came out the government was encouraging the telecom companies in the country to co-share their infrastructure to enhance their delivery in the interest of their customers.

In the area of fibre laying by the telcos, she said the rate at which the companies were individually digging the cities to lay cables was unfortunate and not cost effective.

“What they have laid in the capital alone can cover the entire nation if put together and that is why we are encouraging them to find a way to co-share”, she said.

The communications minister said the ministry was exploring ways to ensure that the telcos could leverage the spread of electricity lines to spread their cables across the length and breadth of the country.

She said the government was open to partner the private sector players to ensure that the spread of telecom infrastructure was done more speedily and effectively.

Building digital economy
The boss of the International Financial Corporation, Mr Philippe Le Houerou in his closing remarks asked developing countries including Ghana to work towards building a digital economy.

“Start with the basics which include electricity and broadband”, he said adding that “governments need to come up with policies that will be an enabler and not prohibitive”.

Innovation in the ICT sector, he said had helped improve the financial services sector across the globe by allowing people who did not have access to banking services in any form to do so.

Mr Houerou asked governments in Africa to  provide more ICT incubators for the youth to unearth their talents.

“Building a Digital Economy should no longer be a choice. We have to do it and we will do it”, he added. — GB