In a way to outline his former ministry's achievements after being reshuffled to the ministry of interior, Hon. Albert Kan Dapaah, the former minister of communications, has said Ghana's tele-density has grown to over 1,200% since 2001. Tele-density is the rate at which Ghanaians access telephones.
The total number of telephone subscribers in 2000 was 218,000. However, with the investment of over 8 trillion cedis spanning the period from 2001 to 2005, the number of telephone subscribers has reached 3 million and he expected the number to rise to 4,500,000 by the end of 2006.
The minister remarked, during a workshop on 'improving business competitiveness and increasing economic growth in Ghana: the role of ICT' in Accra yesterday, that these achievements had been possible due to essential building blocs and platforms of ICT provided by government to make Ghana a major emerging knowledge society and economy.
He said during his tenure, a national ICT policy that target development, deployment and exploitation of ICT was initiated to assist the development of all sectors of the economy.
“The policy identified 14 priority focus areas ranging from accelerated human resource development, facilitating of the private sector promotion of export-oriented ICT products and services industry, and deployment and spread of ICT among others”.
He said the e-legislation process is still enjoying the massive support of stakeholders, and a draft bill would soon be sent to cabinet for approval.
He said the building of these platforms has attracted the international community, with Ghana climbing from the 74th position in 2004 in the network readiness index to the 64th in 2005. Ghana was also tracked in the AT Kearney Index and was ranked 22 out of 40 preferred countries in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). South Africa ranked 32nd.
He mentioned the e-Ghana project where an enabling environment, business outsourcing and local ICT businesses and government applications and intra-government communications are an integral part.
In the area of BPO and local ICT businesses, he said the market was worth US$606 billion in 2004 worldwide. It would reach US$728 billion and it is the objective of the ministry for Ghana to take a 5% share in the market.
He said policies are in place to push the country into that category. He hoped the workshop would provide a working document to guide the country in that direction.
The deputy minister of communications, Dr. Benjamin Aggrey Ntim, said it is the aim of his ministry to see all schools develop ICT and to get the tele-density to 50% by 2015 and internet access to 25% of the population.
“By 2010, we would have government forms to be accessed on the internet,” he assured.
The lead consultant of Hewitt Associates, Mr. Anupam Prakash, who presented the report, noted that for Ghana to become a BPO destination, she needs to seriously look at improving her ICT infrastructure, environment, cluster of service providers and market.
Touching on two broad approaches of market drive and the development of the supply side, Mr. Prakash said the demand side should be left with the private sector, whiles the public sector takes over the supply side.
He recommended that Ghana starts from the lower level of the value chain and build towards the higher level. He also urged Ghana to build operational efficiency and target the medical inscription market, which includes billing.
The consultant opined that school curriculum should contain more ICT and service oriented programmes, recommending that a country awareness of BPO and ICT especially be created. He called increase in the number fixed lines in Ghana.
He identified high cost of capital and long property registration time as big disadvantages the country must work on.
The two-day workshop has brought people from all over the world to discuss the findings and recommendations to advise the government on which way to go in terms of developing the BPO market.