$25m MTN Ghana ICT Hub project begins
MTN Ghana has cut the sod for the construction of an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) hub to train the youth and create the platform for the development of technology solutions for businesses and the country.
The project, which is one of three pillars under the $25-million Ghana Innovation Hub initiative by MTN, is expected to train over 200,000 youth in ICT and digital skills and generate more than 100,000 jobs within the first three years.
Done in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation and the Ghana Digital Centres Limited (GDCL), the idea of an incubating and skills training hub is expected to be completed in 18 months.
When completed, it will provide office spaces and meeting venues for more than 100 technology companies.
The sod-cutting ceremony at the Accra Digital Centre in Accra yesterday took a digital switch when about five dignitaries were handed virtual reality (VR) headsets and given a walk-through three-dimensional (3D) virtual experience of how the building would look like.
The dignitaries who wore the VR devices included the Minister of Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful; the Minister of Works and Housing, Francis Asenso-Boakye; the South African High Commissioner to Ghana, Grace Mason, and the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of MTN Ghana, Selorm Adadevoh.
Other dignitaries at the ceremony were the Board Chairman of MTN Ghana, Ishmael Yamson; the CEO of the Accra Digital Centre Ltd, Kwadwo Baah Agyemang; the CEO of the Ghana Chamber of Telecommunications, Dr Kenneth Ashigbey; the Member of Parliament for Okaikwei South, Darkoa Newman, and CEOs and directors-general of other governmental agencies.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said the ICT hub would facilitate the paradigm shift needed to accelerate the country’s progress with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.
She indicated that the hub would complement the GDCL’s focus on a nationwide network of digital transformation centres and interventions, adding that innovation was the hallmark of entrepreneurship, as digital entrepreneurship provided huge opportunities for job creation and economic growth.
"Like other countries, this ICT hub will be the venue for Ghana's creative minds and innovators to explore and nurture ideas to address economic problems, provide technical support for start-ups, deepen digital literacy, especially among our young girls, broaden the participation of women in ICT, encourage research and development and, most importantly, ensure that Ghanaians embrace the full use of ICT," she said.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful commended MTN Ghana for its effort in making the initiative possible, saying. Mr Adadevoh said the initiative was to prepare the youth to have better prospects of succeeding and competing in the global digital economy.
“The establishment of the Ghana ICT Hub will help build the future we want for our youth and foster new sources of economic growth for Ghana,” he said and referenced the country’s population structure, which is changing from its dominance by children zero to 14 years into dominance by the youth between 15 and 35 years.
He said the Ghana ICT Hub project was only a small part of a broader project called the “GhanaInnovation Hub”, the other two being the AccraInnovation City and the Ghana EducationPlatform.
The MTN Ghana CEO further indicated that as the world continued to evolve, it was important for the country’s youth to be equipped with ICT and digital skills for them to stay relevant and competitive, especially within the region, within the context of the African Continental Free TradeArea (AfCFTA).
Mr Adadevoh said the establishment of the hub would also help burst some myths around ICT and remove barriers that diminished the level of consideration placed on ICT as a viable career path and employment option.
Mr Yamson said the project would provide a platform for the development of technology solutions by SMEs and other entrepreneurs seeking a means to incubate transformative products to solve local problems.
He added that the digital hub would be provisioned to develop ICT skills for the youth all over the country, which would result in ICT skills enhancement and capacity building.