09.06.2004 Business & Finance

Africa has not capitalized on ICT prospects - Kyeremanten

09.06.2004 LISTEN

Accra, June 9, GNA - Mr Alan Kyeremanten, Trade, Industry and President's Special Initiative Minister has observed that, in spite of the growing adoption of Information Communication Technology (ICT) policy reforms in Africa, most countries were still unable to capitalize on ICT prospects to turn their economies around.

Launching the 6th Ghana Industry and Technology Exhibition (INDUTECH 2005), he said "Africa has not been unable to capitalize on ICT as a tool in enhancing living standards that would create new business opportunities and cross-border linkages within the continent. "Linkages with global markets have been similarly constrained and although many countries in Africa have started ICT policy reforms, service penetration, quality and tariffs have not yet improved," he said.

On the up-coming INDUTECH theme "Transforming Ghana's Industrial Sector through ICT", Mr Kyeremanten noted that ICT driven by the convergence of the computers, telecommunication and traditional media, were crucial for knowledge based economy for the future.

The exhibition, which would span from March 3 to 14, 2005, is expected to attract over 500 local companies and 100 foreign companies, targeting mostly countries with advanced technology such as India, China, Malaysia, Japan and other sub-regional countries.

The Minister said ICT has opened new windows of opportunity for African countries to accelerate their economic growth and development, adding, "the goals of achieving a common sub-regional market and an African Union can benefit immensely from the revolution of information technology".

In Ghana, Mr Kyeremanten said, poor ICT infrastructure, coupled with weak and regulatory framework and limited human resources had resulted in inadequate access to affordable information gadgets, such as telephones, broadcasting equipment, computers and the Internet.

He said being the fourth Sub-Saharan country to go online, Ghana is aspiring to become an Internet and communication hub for West Africa and today, the country's Internet connectivity offers much more, including instant access to messages, browsing through hypertext, links, access to news groups on thousands of subjects and even video transfers.

Mr Prince Kofi Kludjeson, President of the Association of Ghana Industries (AGI) expressed concern about duties that were imposed on computer components saying, "Our worry is the limitation of the scope of computer assembling and the consequent effect on employment".

He said despite some positive response to this by the current government, not enough, comprehensive and radical promotion of ICT has been made, thus access to a personal computer and design of software still remain a dream to many small and medium scale entrepreneurs.

"Given the context of global economy, a strong, reliable, sustainable and resilient ICT infrastructure would be critical to the realization of the goal of the Industrial Reform and Accelerated Growth Programme," he said.

The programme, initiative by government, is a an export-led industrialization drive, which focuses on agro-processing and a comprehensive import-competing industrialization programme targeted at producing locally substantial proportion of all non-petroleum imports.

Mr Atta Nyamekye, Chairman of the Planning Committee of INDUTECH 2005 said strategies were being put in place to ensure that the exhibition was marketed abroad, saying, "This will be a departure from previous approaches and underline the new paradigm of economic diplomacy".

He said the theme was to create an opportunity for ICT companies to showcase and demonstrate their potential in both soft and hard wares infrastructure and the opportunities that they could offer to industrialists to improve their operations. 09 June 04

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