Ghana has made significant strides towards developing information, communications and technology (ICT) infrastructure to attract business into the sector, especially business process outsourcing.Apart from the development of the national ICT backbone, currently ongoing, the Ministry of Communications is also developing standards and curricular for software development and training, an important ingredient in establishing the country as a viable Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) destination.
Ghana is seeking to put her house in order to be able to generate about $750 million in the next five years.
The Director of the Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Secretariat, a body under the Ministry of Communications, Mr Kwesi Adu Gyan, said in Accra at an executive breakfast meeting of the Ghana Association of Software and IT Services Companies (GASSCOM) that in a matter of weeks, the contract would be awarded for the development of the curricular and accreditation scheme for skills training in the ITES sector.
The event was organised by AITEC Ghana, an ICT events management company, in collaboration with GASSCOM, as a prelude to a two-day seminar on BPOs, and call and contact centres.
Mr Gyan said ITES had also charged the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) to develop standards for software development and the ICT industry as a whole to move it to international standards.
He pointed out that ITES had been charged with the responsibility for nurturing the private sector to participate effectively in the IT-enabled services sector, formulate policies and create the enabling environment to advance the industry.
As part of its goals, he said the Ghana Multimedia Incubator Centre (GMIC) was set up in 2005 to develop the ICT sector through incubation as well as promote the development of the BPOs, and call and contact centres.
The director of the ITES Secretariat said to develop the sector, the country needed a cost-effective and suitable infrastructure to support the smooth evolution of the sector.
A South African consultant and founder of C3Africa, Mr Rod Jones, who has done extensive work in the IT-enabled services area in many African countries, urged the country to conduct an extensive in-country study into the sector so as to identify strengths, weaknesses, what could work for the country and what could not.
“A formal countrywide research to understand the matrices and nature of existing industry in Ghana should be conducted, after which comes a clear domestic and international development strategy to make the industry work,” Mr Jones stated.
He said it was also important for Ghana to ensure that its services offered were between 30 and 40 per cent cost-savings so as to compete with the more advanced BPO countries such as India, Malaysia and The Philippines.
According to Mr Jones, who referred extensively to the South African experience, it was also important to improve the skills of the personnel, get people to appreciate the area as career-driven and not stepping stones to look for “better opportunities”.
He said language proficiency and accent could be a drawback, but could be worked on with elaborate training and coaching.
The Minister of Communications, Dr Benjamin Aggrey-Ntim, said the sector was dear to the heart of the government and it was taking pragmatic steps to develop it.
Dr Aggrey-Ntim advised private sector operators to consider extending their services to other parts of the country, adding that the policy of the government to downsize the public sector would offer more business opportunities to the private sector BPOs, and call and contact centres.
GASSCOM hopes to play a leading role in the ICT industry of Ghana through advocacy and practical interventions, both at the private and public sector levels as a way of contributing to the growth of the multi-billion dollar industry.
Story by Samuel Doe Ablordeppey