Ghana's Digital Economy Left Unchecked?
The world has over the past two decades been obsessed with digitization despite its emergence rendering labour obsolete and jobless. Ghana isn’t insensitive to this phenomenon. We rejoice when software and applications ease the effort we put into making things happen, therefore always on the lookout for software from the western world that makes life simpler. Due to digitization, we can now sit in the comfort of our homes and make purchases with just a click on our laptops and mobiles phones and the commodities are delivered to our doorsteps.
The word economy since it was wrongly pronounced by the late president Prof. Atta Mills is a very familiar word in the country. But are we familiar with the digital economy? According to RAWAFRICA in October 2016, mobile money transactions equalled a whooping GHS 35.4 billion, which was a 216% increment over the previous year. The bitcoin currency is gaining grounds in our country. Banks now offer ATM cards that allowing customers make not only local but international transactions. Like it or not, a cashless society, which the wheel for a digital economy, is the future. But are we ready for it? Are we supervising it properly? Certainly not, with the absence of a clear and comprehensive national policy to identify the main proponent that will bring all stakeholders on board.
Countries like France and Singapore have taken their digital economy seriously. France developed a framework for its digital economy and made sure digital affairs is a part of their ministry of economy and industry. France boasts of an inflation rate of less than 1%. Its digital economy isn’t the main reason behind this inflation rate but YES, a well-controlled and policy driven growth in digital economy lowers prices and inflation rate.
The digital economy reduces prices by providing scope for cost savings in the retail and wholesale markets, which both traditional and online retailers can pass on to their customers, as compared to the standard brick-and-mortar-based distribution. Secondly e-commerce can be effective in lowering prices as a result of increased competition among suppliers as customers can conveniently search the internet for better bargains and thus force traditional and online suppliers to keep their prices low. Singapore is projected to make a huge statement on the world’s economy and its digital economy has been singled out as the key factor.
As at 2016, Singapore had topped the World Economic Forum’s ‘networked readiness’ index for a second year in a row. According to a Margareta Drzeniek, a lead economist at the World Economic Forum, Singapore has put in place strong government strategy to promote information and communications technology in terms of skills, infrastructure, business usage and individual usage. Just like Ghana, Singapore is a small country yet it is open to connecting to the world’s economy digitally and reaping its associated benefits. Such benefits make it shocking to believe that our nation has no clear national policy to facilitate and regulate e-commerce
Our president created portfolios at the presidency for areas he deemed needed critical attention and there was none for our digital economy. Also in the absence of a comprehensive policy for a cashless society and digital economy, it is safe to say that the sector has been over looked, for now. Do we always have to wait for a decade or two before emulating positive economic initiatives and strides made in the west? By which time it would be too late to compete?
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