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11.09.2004 Business & Finance

World Bank pledges to bolster ICT growth in Ghana

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Accra, Sept. 11, GNA - The World Bank has expressed its commitment to support Ghana's efforts to integrate ICT into all sectors of the Ghanaian life to create jobs, increase foreign exchange earnings and promote sustainable development.

A visiting World Bank Delegation, led by Country Director Mats Karlsson, made the pledge in response to an appeal by Vice President Aliu Mahama, who accompanied it to inspect ICT activities at the Multi-Media Centre, located in Ghana House, Accra.

Vice President Mahama said Ghana was committed to its vision to use ICT as a catalyst for economic growth and needed the assistance of the Bank to fully achieve its goal.

The Government, through the Ministry of Communications and Technology, has resourced the centre with ICT infrastructure and training facilities to attract businesses in the ICT sector, particularly those in business outsourcing and call centres to locate there. About 30 companies are expected to operate there.

Businesses inspected included Supra Telecom, which runs a Call Centre for the United States-based company; Money Systems, which provides software to facilitate money transfer by banks in five African countries; and the offices for Ghana Telecom's new Call Centre. Vice President Mahama urged the companies, particularly Ghana Telecom, to provide excellent customer services across the country. The members of the World Bank delegation, who said they were impressed with activities at the Centre, included Ms Yukiko Omura, Executive Vice President of Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA), Mr Michel Wormser, Director, Finance, Private Sector and Infrastructure, Africa Region and Nils O. Tcheyan, Director Operations and Strategy, Office of the Vice President, Africa.

Ghana is seeking financial assistance from the Bank and other development partners to establish Industrial and Technology Parks in the Free Zones Enclave at Tema and at a site near Madina to facilitate the growth of ICT related businesses.

Ms Omura, whose agency provides insurance guarantee for foreign direct investments, said she was fascinated by activities at the Multi Media Centre and promised to help to promote private sector development in Ghana.

"I didn't expect to see this level of progress, "she said. 'It is especially exciting to see Ghanaians working with their own ideas." Mr Wormser for his part, pledged support for infrastructure and technology development, which he said were key to socio-economic growth. Mr Karlsson said the benefits from ICT were close to gold and giving skills in that area was the right step towards the future. Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of Communications and Technology, said Ghana was determined to acquire at least 10 per cent of the 30 billion-dollar business outsourcing from the United States. India receives 60 per cent of the business.

"We have the human resources and we are providing training and the technology for it," he said. "If we should get three billion dollars annually from this source, it would far exceed the receipts from cocoa," the Minister said.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said the facilities at the Multi-Media Centre, which provides easier accessibility to fibre optic link from submarine in the ocean, had been over subscribed.

The Ministry, he said, was only acting as facilitator, adding that the Association of Ghana Industries and Private Sector Foundation would be in-charge of the ICT facilities. 11 Sept. 04

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