Accra, March 30, GNA - Vice President Alhaji Mahama on Thursday launched two Information and Technology and Communication (ICT) projects in Accra that would leap-frog national efforts to bridge the digital divide.
The first was Ghana's Digital Inclusion Programme (i- Advance Computer for all) at the Kofi Annan IT Centre, which aimed at ensuring that ordinary Ghanaians achieved Internet connectivity through the Government Assisted Personal Computers (PC) Programme.
It would also facilitate financing mechanisms with flexible terms of payment for people who wanted to acquire PCs.
As a follow up to the programme he launched the first electronic- learning Centre in Africa at Accra Girls' Secondary School where the students would be the first to access education through a wireless technology that provides broadband connections over long distances. The technology being packaged as the Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access (WIMAX) was the by-product of collaboration between the Government and Microsoft and Intel- two global giants in Information, Technology and Communication (ICT).
Vice President Alhaji Aliu Mahama, who launched the pilot computer access project at the school's campus, said it was a practical demonstration of bridging the digital and broadband divide. Speaking at the Kofi Annan IT Centre, he said bridging the digital divide was part of the key objectives of the World Summit for the Information Society in Geneva to narrow the ICT gap between the industrialised world and developing countries.
Vice President Mahama said increased access and usage of ICT could improve national competitiveness and Gross Domestic Product (GDP), create sustainable economic growth and job opportunities to foster development of a highly skilled workforce and improve productivity and efficiency.
"I am proud to say that thanks to Intel's capacity for innovation, we are well on track. The development of a PC named Discover, the first of its kind in the world, which may be available at a cost of 300 dollars, offers a great opportunity to fast track human resource development for the global age".
Vice President Mahama asked Microsoft and Intel to take advantage of the national technology Park that was under construction at the Tema Free Zone enclave to further the course of ICT and innovation. More JA/BDB
NSCE 07 Science Aliu Centre 2 Accra
Mr Albert Kan Dapaah, Minister of Communications, said the Digital Inclusion Programme would boost the Personal Computer Home Ownership Scheme through the introduction of affordable and locally assembled PCs and financing mechanisms, which allowed every Ghanaian in regular employment to enjoy bank credit to purchase a PC.
He said ICT held the key to the attainment of the targets that the world had set for itself in the Millennium Development Goals. Mr Kan-Dapaah noted that ICT could significantly improve upon the station of life of every Ghanaian, adding: "If ICT is good for the privileged ones and those who live in the urban and city centres then it must be even better for the less privileged and those who live in the rural areas."
Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, Minister of Education and Sports (MOES), said ICT held the key to efforts to revamp the country's educational system. He observed that the national excitement in having computers in schools only translated in just the learning about computers and the learning of basic computers literacy skills.
Mr Osafo Maafo said findings from surveys conducted by the MOES showed that most schools were not really using computers as a tool to enhance teaching and learning.
Dr John E. Davies, Vice President of Intel, stressed the relevance of the digital divide to give easy and affordable access to knowledge and enhance competitiveness in the global market.
Dr Sheikh Madibo Diarra, Chairman of Microsoft Africa, said his firm was using partnership, innovation and access to ICT to influence human development.