Canadian exports to Ghana in the last 25 years have increased from $23.8m in 1995 to $372m in 2022.
The Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, disclosed this at just-ended Ghana–Canada Investment Summit 2022 in Canada.
Held under the theme: Charting a Path Through Post Covid-19 Uncertainties, the summit sought to discover new investment opportunities and deepen the long-standing bilateral relations for the mutual benefit of the two countries in the post-pandemic era.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said COVID-19 undoubtedly has a universal impact, devastating global supply chains and shutting national borders to enable governments to control the spread of the virus.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful indicated that though the pandemic was very dire, it also ignited innovation and the use of technology to meet essential needs in critical sectors of the global economy, adding that countries and citizens resorted to technology for survival and continuity of operations.
She pointed out that before the outbreak in 2017, “we began implementing digitalisation policies and platforms aimed at digitalising public sector agencies, reducing inefficiencies and corruption and increasing revenue collection. These included the Paperless Port System (PPS), Ghana Post GPS digital address system and the issuance of the digital national identification card, mobile money interoperability, e-procurement portal and e-justice system, among others.”
According to her, smart workplace solutions were launched across departments and non-department-specific functions, such as payroll, were digitised for over 300 agencies to enhance efficiency and productivity.
On pragmatic measures taken by the government to mitigate the impact of the lockdown, she mentioned that the National Communications Authority (NCA) had assigned spectrum to Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) to support COVID-19 relief efforts and to help improve the quality of experience of the users.
That was to cater for increased data traffic and online activity, including learning, meetings, work-from-home as well as religious and social events.
She added that the Ministry also directed the NCA to permit MNOs with existing 2G Licenses to deploy Universal Mobile Telecommunications Systems (UMTS), which is a 3G technology, in unserved and underserved communities across the country at no additional fee.
She said the ministry empowered Ghana Learning TV and radio to provide virtual learning space for basic schools and learning management systems for tertiary institutions, adding that iCampus also provided offline access to video lessons and subsequently, notes and virtual laboratories were part of several other initiatives introduced for the education sector to lessen the impact of COVID-19.
The Minister said similar interventions were made for the health sector such as the Medical Drone System, which is an automated on-demand delivery service for medical supplies with aim of making health delivery accessible to all.
The government, she said, also launched a COVID-19 Alleviation and Revitalization of Enterprise Support initiative dubbed the Ghana Cares (Obaatan Pa) programme as part of proactive intervention for post-COVID and it was specially designed to help stabilize, revitalize and transform Ghana's economy to create jobs and prosperity for Ghanaians over three years.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the programme focused on supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into agriculture, building Ghana's light manufacturing sector, developing engineering/machine tools and ICT/digital economy, developing Ghana's housing and construction industry and reviewing and optimizing the implementation of the government flagships and key programmes.
The specialised programme envisaged moving Ghana into the industrialisation, agriculture, and manufacturing phase to help revamp the economy, create jobs, and alleviate poverty.
Touching on investment opportunities she said, “I recently launched the African Continental Free Trade Agreement, (AfCFTA) Hub to promote, enhance and advance digital trading, electronic commerce, marketplace and general services in Ghana. AfCFTA Hub will make it easier for Technology Startups, Small Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and other producers of goods and services, including ICT services to find markets across Africa. It is a one-stop shop for regulators, financial institutions and payment services providers, SMEs and logistics services providers to do business from Ghana to the rest of the continent and beyond.”