THE GOVERNMENT of Ghana is considering the adoption of an electronic-governance programme as a mechanism to promote lateral and horizontal collaboration among the Metropolitan/Municipal/District Assemblies (MMDAs) to bring information to the citizenry and businesses.
This is to improve efficiency, productivity, speed and comfort in the provision of services to the general public following government's ambition to use Information and Communication Technology (ICT) as a catalyst for poverty alleviation.
The Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural Development and Environment, Mr. Kofi Poku-Adusei, disclosed this at a sensitization workshop for 50 M/DCEs drawn from various District Assemblies in the country.
It was under the theme 'Bridging the Digital Divide - the Role of ICT in Poverty Reduction'.
The Minister, who explained the electronic-governance as the use of ICT in public administration and for that matter local governance, indicated that government had recognized that good governance and decentralization depend on easy access to quality and timely information, which forms the base of value-added decision-making at all levels of governance.
According to him, government is encouraging the District Assemblies and their decentralized structures to procure both off-line and on-line facilities for their staff.
"It is in pursuance of this that our government (NPP) is seriously providing computers, photocopiers, printers (off-line equipment), and also facilitating network in all the Assemblies," he stated.
Mr. Poku-Adusei believed the provision of access to information and communication services in remote areas of the country was the key to accelerating their socio-economic development.
"There is a strong wave of information revaluation sweeping across the world and every facet, and all government businesses must take advantage of it to improve services delivery," he emphasized.
In his view, since the Local Government has been placed in a unique position of generating and making use of specialized information, the Assemblies should therefore, employ the electronic-governance facility to provide information to the general public.
"Our ability to use information and technology to inform the general public will receive their understanding and cooperation of our efforts at providing development and improving their living standards," the sector's Deputy Minister concluded.
The Minister of Communication, Prof. Mike Oquaye, on his part, told the M/DCEs that the workshop was an affirmation of the government's commitment to the development and exploitation of ICT in Ghana, as well as bridging the digital divide between the served and underserved communities in both rural and urban areas.
"Obviously, this is in line with the policy of the Ministry of Communications to promote the enhancement and integration of ICT infrastructure as a necessary platform for the narrowing of the digital divide and the utilisation of this facility to deploy efficiency in business transaction," he noted.
According to Prof. Oquaye, it was once said that ICT was for the rich and that people needed food, not technology and that technology was a tool solely intended to provide the affluent with luxuries.
He continued further that those countries that were brave enough to challenge this mainstream and neoclassical view today had gained in advancing human development and eradication of poverty largely through technological breakthrough.
The Communications Minister also affirmed that for Ghana to move her industrially weak and subsistent-agriculture-based economy towards a middle-income nation, ICT must be seen as the engine to propel this growth, adding that government has ambitions to use ICT as a catalyst for poverty alleviation.
According to him, currently in Ghana, the so-called digital divide between the rural and urban areas has created a stark disparity between the few Ghanaians with abundant access to ICTs and the vast numbers, especially in the rural areas without any access.
The learned Professor observed that information and knowledge were and still are critical components of government's poverty alleviation strategies and ICT offers the promise of easy access to huge amounts of information such as health care, education, capital, shelter, employment and agricultural information that are useful to the country's poor.