Accra, Jan 07, GNA - Dr Osei Darkwa, Principal of the Ghana Telecom University College, at the week-end said the full benefits of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) for development could only be realised if ICT were brought into the mainstream of development by the powerful political, academia and business advocates. He said the history of the evolution and the application of ICT in other parts of the world depicted the importance of political support for success and urged the government and the rest of Africa to continue to support the pursuit of the agenda of adopting and learning of the technology.
Dr Darkwa, who was speaking at the 57th Annual New Year School underway at the University of Ghana, Legon, said the nation should not be satisfied with the development of the ICT until it was able to build the infrastructure that had the ability to reach people living in rural and isolated area with ICT.
He spoke on the topic "ICT Education for Accelerated National Development" at the weeklong school, an annual extra mural programme of the Institute of Adult Education (IAE) of the University of Ghana. More than 400 participants are attending the school on the broad topic " Enhancing the Human Resource for an Accelerated National Development."
Dr Darkwa said the country had a long way to go in deploying ICT to the broad mass of Ghanaians, explaining that solar technologies, virtual reality kiosks and other information appliances could enable rural people to have access to Information Technology. He described IT knowledge as a fundamental human right and called for collaborative effort in pulling resources together in the march to the "technological promised land".
"Let us march on like crusaders to that envisioned kingdom where a sizeable percentage of our people will be exposed to the power of ICT; where our governments will be involved in the information capacity building and where people lining in the rural areas will not be left out in this global culture of the Internet", Dr Darkwa said. He said there was the need to establish an ICT Service Fund at the national, regional and at the global level and appealed to the government to establish and to fund plans to utilise completed infrastructure projects such as satellite and fibre optics to disseminate information on agriculture, health and other sectors of the economy.
Mr Mohammed-Sani Abdulai, the Director of Studies at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, said Ghana currently faced human resource problem in the area of ICT skills. He proposed the initiation of an "ICT Empowerment Drive" to promote the adoption of ICT by the informal sector. Also, an ICT Capacity Development Programme should be developed under the auspices of the ICT Empowerment Drive to raise the understanding of managers and entrepreneurs of how ICT could affect their enterprises and also equip staff to use ICT effectively in their business processes. Mr Abdulai called for vigorous efforts to address the high illiteracy rates, and stressed the establishment of community and information networks equipped with information resources to serve as access points by members. Ms Dorothy Gordon, the Director General of the Kofi Annan ICT Centre, who chaired the symposium, said all efforts must be made to make Ghana an ICT ready country.