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31.01.2006 General News

Chief Justice on ICT

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Accra, Jan. 31, GNA - Chief Justice George Kingsley Acquah on Tuesday challenged the nation's ICT players to step-up efforts to bridge the current huge digital divide by making information access all-inclusive to Ghanaians.

He said the issue of digital inclusion was an important subject that needed to be discussed since it would move the debate from digital access to one of inclusiveness.

Opening the fourth ICT for government conference and exhibition in Accra, Chief Justice Acquah said that analysis of the issue would also "...move the debate from the government being an overseer providing direction for an enabling environment to one where it must actively seek to provide equal opportunities for all".

More than 300 local and foreign participants are attending the three-day conference and exhibition under the theme: "Harmonizing E-Government for Development."

The Chief Justice said "E-Government will, therefore, only have a meaning if all citizens of the country are giving equal opportunities to ICTs."

He said e-government was not only about using ICTs in public sector management and reform but also borders on economic and social equity adding: "It should be seen as a critical component towards an information and knowledge economy..."

According to him e-government strategy should seek to harmonise government work in a way that that improved the overall development of the country.

Chief Justice Acquah said a major challenge also confronting the nation was the capacity and extent to which the country could utilise ICT devices to improve standards of living.

"The much talked about digital divide is really several gaps in one - there is a technological divide, great gaps in infrastructure, there is a content divide, as web-based information is simply not relevant to the real needs of people..." he said.

Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of Communication, said there was the need to leverage the aspiration of making the government machinery efficient with that using ICT to facilitate accelerated development. He said government ICT Policy is aimed largely at developing the human and technological potential of the country through the effective use of ICT and to make Ghana an ICT hub in West Africa.

"This goal will, however, not be achieved if the government machinery is not positioned to be an effective user and innovator of ICT," the Minister said.

He said in spite of significant strides by the nation to be part of the information society, there was the need to harmonize e-government and development to see the fruits of the ICT revolution in the country. "There is huge potential for leveraging ICT projects for the good of our rural communities.." Mr Dapaah said.

He announced that this year the Government with the support of the World Bank would start the E-Ghana Project aimed at supporting concrete initiatives to implement the nation's ICT policy strategies.

Mr Dapaah said the project was expected to generate increased employment, in the IT-Enabled services notably business processing outsourcing, and enhance efficiency, transparency and accountability in government agencies and departments.

" We must succeed with the E-Ghana Project. Our people have heard so much about the potentials of and they are hungry to see some practical demonstration of the ICT potentials," he said.

The Minister said "the challenges ahead required that we adopt and adapt to new business processes, type of skills that should come with emergence of a large scale managers, innovators, business consultants, IT specialists and many others". 31 Jan. 06

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