Ghana is a leader in African telecoms market liberalisation, has a relatively high level of mobile penetration and is a regional centre for submarine cables. However, this has not necessarily been reflected by the use of ICT in the day-to-day lives of Ghanaians or in ordinary businesses. For Daniel Glover, general manager of Tecno, the issue is digital awareness: “We believe providing 4G LTE will not necessarily make any difference without showing people what to do with the internet.” In November 2014, the government launched the e-Transform Ghana project to address this.
Under the overarching objective of broadening ICT take-up, e-Transform Ghana has a number of primary goals. These include: improving the allocation of public resources, boosting the efficiency and broadening the coverage of priority government services, and nurturing entrepreneurship and job creation through ICT. Solutions involving ITC are applied to areas of public life including health, education, justice, and representative democracy. Technologies that the e-Transform project aims to harness include wide-area networks and mobile internet.
The project is a joint venture between the Ghanaian Ministry of Communications and the World Bank, which is fully funding the $97m cost.
The e-Transform programme follows on from the “ICT for Transformation Report”, prepared under World Bank guidance, which asserted that Ghana had the potential to develop a knowledge-based economy and become an important destination for companies delivering ICT-based business processes in the region.
As such, e-Transform aims to develop an array of applications, products and services that can engage Ghanaians from a range of backgrounds, as well as local businesses. This includes local online content, and could relate to sectors such as agriculture, education, health, banking and public administration. It also aims to support the development of mobile payment systems.
Intended beneficiaries of the scheme include the government (through more efficient and cost-effective delivery of services and administration), the business sector (via lower transaction costs and greater accessibility to government), and individuals, particularly women and the young, through improved public services.
The project has four components, beneath which are several subsidiary goals, each with a specific funding allocation. The first component is creating an enabling environment for electronic government and business, allocated $15.45m.
The second component is allocated $29.15m for upgrading national identification and online verification services, with the aim of supporting e-commerce as well as government functions. Some $21.45m will go towards a national electronic ID system, with 12m biometric cards to be issued, and official areas such as births and deaths, social welfare, vehicle licensing and immigration affected.
The third component entails $41.55m to support the scaling up of applications to improve service delivery in priority sectors. This includes e-health ($4m), education ($8.05m) and support for existing e-applications ($28.5m), including parliamentary business, justice and immigration.
The final component, worth $7.1m, is project management for support, with the Ministry of Communication serving as the main executing agency for the e-Transform project, building on the experience of e-Ghana.
A World Bank progress report in June 2015 noted that project implementation was “ramping up”, with the programme expected to accelerate after the completion of the process of recruiting experts and drawing up procurement packages.
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