The Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC), has commenced a project called, “Digital for Inclusion (D4I)” to leverage digital services to reach out to rural communities by the end of 2020.
The D4I project is a 36-month programme designed to achieve the government’s agenda of meeting the United Nations (UN) sustainable development goals to open up marginalised communities, enable financial and digital inclusion to promote development.
The project is championed by GIFEC, in collaboration with the Ministry of Communications, Ghana Cocoa Board, National Board for Small-Scale Industry, Ministry of Inner Cities and Zongo Development, Zeepay and Bluetown, a Danish company.
In a speech read on her behalf, the Minister for Communication, Mrs Ursula Owusu -Ekuful, at the opening ceremony of the stakeholder consultation last Thursday, noted that through the provision of data, expansion of mobile financial services, the D4I project would make communities cash-light, improve monetary supply and promote financial stability.
She said the project was meant to bridge the gap between rural and urban communities in terms of information communication technology (ICT).
"This project will attract a lot more companies to the deprived communities thereby creating jobs for the people to better their lives," the minister indicated.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful added that under the programme, more youth would be empowered with entrepreneurial skills.
"The forum will enable stakeholders to apply the multiplier effect by identifying and training new entrepreneurs in digital age who will leverage digital services to provide financial services nationwide," she said.
According to Mrs Owusu –Ekuful, some of the challenges hampering the development of the ICT sector in Ghana were high cost of ICT services, access, lack of infrastructure and low quality of services.
She said since the liberalisations and deregulation of the telecommunications industry in the early 2000s, it had shown significant promise to reduce poverty, increase productivity, boost economic growth and improve accountability, as well as good governance.
The minister urged all stakeholders to work hard and adopt a non-partisan approach to ensure that the project achieved its desired outcome in communities.
The Chief Executive Officer of GIFEC, Mr Abraham Kofi Asante, said the project would provide connectivity, access and content of services for under-served and non-served areas, especially cocoa growing communities.
Mr Asante said the pilot project would take place at Asumora and Berekum in the Brong Ahafo Region, Goaso and Asankrugua in the Western Region and Kibi in the Eastern Region. Among the services to be provided are electronic (e)-Agriculture, education and health. When successful, it would be extended to other regions.
The Okyenhene of Akyem Abuakwa Traditional Area, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, said the struggles of African countries to deliver growth and prosperity to their people were trapped in inefficient and obsolete development models.
"We are living in an era of technological revolution that was disrupting and transforming business, government and society, therefore, Ghanaians have a responsibility to lead in the digital transformation, " he said.
Osayefuo Ofori Panin, therefore, urged Ghanaians to embrace technology to respond to present day challenges such as corruption, inefficient bureaucracies, poor quality of service, unemployment and low citizen engagement.
He further asked stakeholders to strive to provide ICT platform to support cocoa growing areas, Zongo and other communities with the provision of an affordable rural connectivity entrepreneurial training and other ICT enabled services.