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24.01.2006 General News

UN to assist Ghana establish software laboratory

By GNA

Accra, Jan. 24, GNA - The United Nations is to assist Ghana to establish a science and technology park at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology to support the country in its efforts to develop and test software and hardware components locally. Minister of Communications, Albert Kan-Dapaah, who took his turn at the weekly meet the press series on Tuesday, said the project was one of the major challenges of Ghana's aim to hasten processes to be part of the growing Information and Communication Technology (ICT) industry globally.

The UN selected Ghana in 2005 for the project under its "International Partnerships on New and Emerging Technologies for Sustainable Development" to assist the nation to develop and test IT programmes for use by the local industries such as the banks. It has been reported that such programmes developed locally did not undergo laboratory test and, therefore, did not meet the requirements of local industries.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said the Ministry, established by the President John Agyekum Kufuor's administration had lived to achieve the majority of its vision but continued to face challenges in the area of the development of software and hardware, the development of the national communications backbone infrastructure to facilitate the transportation of telecommunications traffic from one point to another.

The Ministry was also pursuing the development of a national electronic government programme for easy access and improvement of quality of information by Ministries, Departments Agencies (MDAs), improve the quality of telecommunications services, provide enabling environment and construct a centralised and secondary data centres with disaster management and data recovery facilities to enhance the security of information and data.

Mr Kan-Dapaah enumerated the major achievements of the Ministry to include the provision of an enabling environment with the development of the National ICT for Accelerated Development Policy (ICT4AD) among other legal and working documents to facilitate the development of the industry.

He said tele-density, measured by the number of people with telephones out of every 100 had improved remarkably from 1:100 in year 2000 to 15:100 in 2005.

The overall figure of telephone line subscription of both fixed and mobile phones now stands at 2,997,037.

A break down of the figure gives fixed lines, 331,000, payphone lines, 11,037, and mobile phones, 2,655,000 lines.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said he was optimistic that the current figure of 15 per cent would reach the Ministry's target of 20 per cent by the close of 2006, close to the 25 per cent target of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for Ghana. At 20 per cent, the total number of telephone subscribers would be 4.5 million.

Total telephone subscribers in Ghana reached 2.9 million in 2005. The figure for 2000 was 218,000; 2001, 460,000; 2002, 655,000; 2003, 1.06 million and 2004 was 1.6 million.

So far, the telecommunications industry has attracted more than 5.5 billion cedis of investments into the country, a facility that had enabled the development of sub-sectors such as the broadband and other Internet facilities.

Mr Kan-Dapaah said both the Government and the private sector had contributed to the development of manpower to meet ICT industry needs but noted that there was the need to train more personnel to take up responsibilities especially in the area of business outsourcing from other countries and also to begin medical transcription as well as voice and data entry functions. 24 Jan. 06

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