Ghanaian youth to provide human resources for global world given the right skills – MoCD Chief Director

The Chief Director of the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Magdalene Apenteng, says if the youth are given the right skills to enable them to succeed in the digital world, they will provide the human resources for the global world of work within the next 10 to 30 years.

Mrs Apenteng, was speaking on behalf of the Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful at a Graphic Business and Stanbic Bank breakfast meeting held on the 15th of June, 2021 at the Labadi Beach in Accra. She said Africa has the youngest population in the world who are also hungry for knowledge and do amazing things with the little exposure they have.

Organised on the theme: ‘Digitisation: The key to unlocking the Ghanaian dream’.
she noted that Ghana can be the launch pad to reach the rest of the continent as there are many opportunities for lucrative investments in digital infrastructure, services, applications, e-governance infrastructure, cybersecurity, and data protection systems, among others.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said a 2019 study by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), titled “Digital Skills in Sub-Saharan Africa generally, and Ghana in particular. The Study projected that there will be 230 million digital jobs in Sub-Saharan Africa by 2030 and this will mainly be in the areas of business to business and business to government.

She said in revenue terms, the study forecasted that by 2030 opportunities for jobs requiring digital skills will be worth $130 billion, out of which Ghana will account for $4 billion and 9 million jobs.

Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said these opportunities are propelling young graduates to embrace technology and there are technology Hubs across the country working to upskill the teeming youth.

She noted that Ghana in collaboration with International Telecommunications Union (ITU), CISCO, and Norwegian Agency Development Cooperation (NORAD) is currently running the Digital Literacy Skills programme which has been targeted at women entrepreneurs such as hairdressers, dressmakers, other artisans master trainers of coding clubs, technology innovation developers and IT security personnel.

She noted that in partnership with the ITU and WFP, a Youth Driven Digital Food System Model will soon be rolled out to provide digital literacy skills to a million small holder farmers, 4,000 farmer organizations, among others.

Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the programme will build the capacities of persons in the food value chain production, as agriculture is the main stay of the economy. 

A professor of Economics at the University of Ghana Business School, Professor Godfred Bokpin, on his part stressed the need to ensure inclusiveness in the country’s digitalisation agenda.

He said the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation must play a leading role to ensure a level playing field for all. “We should be looking at inclusivity as we go along, and the Ministry of Communications must play a leading role in levelling the playing field to ensure that no one is left behind,” he stated.

He said although digitalisation was very important, it was one of the tools that could worsen inequality, something that had played out in Ghana recently.
“COVID-19 came and the universities, because of a directive from the government, had to migrate online, but not all our students had access. Even if you look at the digital divide between the urban and the rural areas, it is too wide,” he stated.

The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of payments and e-commerce company, Hubtel, Mr Alex Bram, also speaking at the meeting, said there was a lot to be proud of in the country’s digitalisation drive, but added that there was also a lot to be done.
“We are one of the first African countries to adopt mobile telephony, and if you look at what we have also been able to do with the adoption of mobile money and how it is changing the economy, we have so much to be proud of,” he said.

The CEO of Hubtel said a lot had been done to digitise the economy and the benefits were visible. “The more we digitise, the more the economy will grow and create new jobs and new ideas from businesses,” he noted. Mr Bram, however, pointed out that 60 per cent of the Ghanaian population was still not connected to the Internet, which was a major challenge. “Data from our two experiences with mobile telephony and mobile money suggest that if we make these systems available, people will adopt them. What it means is that people are not online in Ghana because the Internet is not available. If they make it available, we can see the adoption also going up,” he stated.

The Director-General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Mr Richard Okyere-Fosu, on his part, said it was necessary to encourage the use of crypto currencies, internationally tradeable electronic currencies, in the country.

He said one challenge of the AfCFTA agreement was the means of settlement, as each country had its settlement processes. “If I had crypto currency, it would make life a little easier, so these are some of the things we should look at; if we encourage that, it will be good for all of us,” he stated. For him, what needed to be done was the creation of the necessary regulatory environment to back it. “It is not new that technology often goes ahead of regulation; we all need to work together with the business community and all players to make sure we craft something that will encourage it,” he stated.