Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, Ghana's Minister for Communications Addresses UNCTAD XII
Ghana's Communications Minister, Dr Benjamin Aggrey Ntim said urgent investment in skills, training and upgrading of information technology infrastructure were needed to reverse the widening information gap between the North and the South.
Speaking at the 12th Ministerial Meeting of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD XII) in Accra on the topic: 'Harnessing knowledge and technology for development', Dr Aggrey-Ntim said creative partnerships for research and development were equally important in bridging the gap.
The roundtable examined the strategies to put the current information and communication technology boom at the service of poverty alleviation and sustainable development.
Dr Aggrey-Ntim said government in developing countries had an obligation to inject the requisite capital to establish and upgrade their telecommunications networks and to enhance the capacities of universities and training centres.
Government and private sector partnership must also be tapped to help stimulate and support technological research and development. There are currently 29 Internet service providers with nearly 1.5 million subscribers. A fibre-optic network is being built to ensure nationwide coverage.
He touched on the 'e-Ghana project', which is placing emphasis on helping local telecommunications businesses take advantage of the opportunities created by public-private partnerships.
Dr Aggrey-Ntim stressed that knowledge creation and the ability to translate telecommunication skills and knowledge into benefits for society were critical in enabling developing countries to take part in the information age. 'In order to achieve a truly knowledge-based economy, developing countries must prioritise skills training as well as research and human capacity-building,' he added.
Dr Supachai Panitchpadki, Secretary-General of UNCTAD said developing countries needed access to knowledge and innovation, not only to improve livelihoods, but also to enhance capacity building.