Interview: Amardeep Singh Hari
What skills is Ghana’s IT sector in most need of?
AMARDEEP SINGH HARI: The IT sector in the country requires more skills in the area of programming and software development, and it also requires more coders. The development of these skills should start from the early junior secondary school level. If we take IT skills as a pyramid, with the top level containing the skills of systems design and project management, the base of the pyramid can only be strong if there are a large number of programmers present.
Ghana continues to invest in applications, but there is a need to invest in the development of local skill sets to support such technologies. Along with this, a competitive industry based on locally developed software solutions also needs to emerge.
What opportunities are available for those who are not able to make it to university?
SINGH : Under impact sourcing, it is important that the country focuses on developing vocational skill sets based around IT skills. Because relatively few institutions offer undergraduate courses, and due to the number of secondary school drop outs and issues such as lower academic performance, there are a large number of students that will not enter university.
Obtaining skills in the areas of cybersecurity, systems engineering, website design and application development can not only assist this group in obtaining white collar jobs, but many of them will be able to create successful start-ups and become entrepreneurs at an early stage of their career.
What role are tech companies playing in the country’s tech circle?
SINGH: Technology companies are able to provide customers with access to the latest technologies on one hand, while on the other hand providing a good launching pad for new graduates who have an IT skill set. IPMC, for instance, provides training to over 20,000 students per year through its franchise programme and more than 27 IT learning centres, in addition to a college of technology.
How can the private sector help to further expand technical training and education?
SINGH: Businesses and both private and public education institutions need to invest in their infrastructure and work towards expanding the IT sector, as well as the skill sets that are required to grow it. There is a shortage of IT training centres in the country, but even more than quantity, what we require today is good-quality IT education institutions.
The current government is very receptive to ideas from the private sector, and there are initiatives, such as the Accra Business Process Outsourcing Centre, that show potential. The more places that are dedicated to IT-related business ventures, or to IT outsourcing with the relevant infrastructure, the higher the demand will be for more sophisticated IT-related professionals. The only way to promote this virtuous cycle of infrastructure investment, IT business development and skill building is through private and public collaboration and communication.
What can the government do to support the growth of IT skills?
SINGH: The government is always the largest user of any kind of goods and services, thus there are strong prospects for it to be the largest technology user. As more and more government agencies adopt automation, IT graduates will be incentivised through more employment opportunities.
Furthermore, the government’s recently inaugurated digital centre in Accra is going to boost the tech ecosystem by placing multiple technology companies in one place. The government can encourage outsourcing in the industry by deciding to allocate more of its work to the start-ups located in this digital centre.
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