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29.03.2007 General News

Let’s stop the talk and walk the talk – Aliu

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Vice President Aliu Mahama has called for the early implementation of Africa's broadband infrastructure programme to enable the continent to deploy and exploit Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to facilitate development.

"The expectations of the people on the Continent are continuously growing and it is high time we moved away from the conference declarations and other exhortations to the critical area of implementation," he said.

Vice President Mahama made the call when he opened the 2007 African E-Governance Forum on the theme: "Utilising ICT for More Efficient, Effective and Inclusive Governance" organised by the Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO).

The three-day forum being hosted by the Ministry of Communications attracted top-level national, regional and international specialists from government, industry and the academia.

It would focus attention on the potential of ICT to improve the transparency and service delivery of Ministries, Department and Agencies to the public and private sectors.

Vice President Mahama said E-Governance offered developing countries and Africa in particular, an opportunity to leapfrog the key stages of industrialisation and transform the subsistence agriculture-dominated economies into service driven and high value-added information economies to successfully compete in the global market.

He said over the years, the development of national e-strategies involving major reforms had increased investment to the communications sector to the extent that by 2005, 60 per cent of the world's phones were in developing countries yet Africa still suffered from tele-densities of less than 10 per cent.

"Opening up to private competition has led to huge inflows of investment, nearly 200 billion dollars in telecommunication in 122 developing countries between 1990 and 2003. Much of the flow did not benefit African countries where there was a crying need for investment to enable ubiquitous access within the countries," he said.

He said it was imperative for African countries to give due regard to the rights and obligations in such areas as freedom of expression, privacy, security, open source solutions and management of Internet addresses and domain names as these were essential ingredients of electronic-governance.

The Chief Executive Officer of CTO, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah, said although Africa was realising faster growth in telecommunications, lack of Internet connectivity was slowing down the process.

He said Africa had recorded a mobile phone increase of 1,000 per cent, making the continent a convergence point of good governance.

Dr Spio-Garbrah said E-Governance was not feasible without the practice of good governance to help to reap the benefits of transparency and the enforcement of the rule of law.

He said studies had shown that 85 per cent of E-Governance projects worldwide had failed.

He commended the ruling New Patriotic Party for showing commitment to promote E-Governance. He said E-Governance was adaptable, could be replicated and showed tangible results.

Dr Spio-Garbrah said in the future, multi-media E-Governance projects would be prominent to facilitate the monitoring of government expenditure, assess the profile of public figures and reduce the cost of development projects.

The Deputy Minister of Communications, Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, said the Government had developed a number of blueprints to boost E-Governance.

These included the incorporation of the National E-Governance programme into the Growth and Poverty-Reduction Strategy II.

He said from 2001 to 2006 the growth of fixed and mobile phones had grown from 4,064 to 5.428 million subscribers.

Dr Ntim said Government had concluded a deal for the privatisation of Ghana Telecom to attract the injection of capital to expand and improve national telecommunication services.

Nana Kobina Nketsia V, Omanhen (Paramount Chief) of Essikado Traditional Area in the Central region said ICT had the potential of promoting understanding, diversity and human growth.

Source: GNA

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