President Mahama being assisted by Nii Adama Latse, the Ga Mantse, and the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, to inaugurate the centre. Pictures: EBOW HANSON
President Mahama being assisted by Nii Adama Latse, the Ga Mantse, and the Minister of Communications, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, to inaugurate the centre. Pictures: EBOW HANSON

Ghana will leverage ICT for sustainable jobs,enhanced livelihoods - President declares

President John Dramani Mahama yesterday inaugurated the Accra Digital Centre, saying that the project was yet another demonstration of the commitment of the government to create more sustainable  jobs for the people.

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He said the completion and opening of the centre highlighted the strides that the country had made in the development of the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) sector and a major boost to job creation.

The centre has been designed to comprise 12 large modern grade A plug and play sheds, each with the capacity to accommodate 350 workers in three shifts.

At full capacity, the centre can create 12,600 direct jobs. 

“This is what l mean when we say we are changing lives and transforming Ghana,” the President said. 

The centre, funded jointly by the Ghana government, Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank, is the largest digital park in West Africa

Rockefeller Foundation and the World Bank jointly contributed US $3.8 million towards the establishment of the centre.

Jobs in context

He explained that around the world, infrastructure provision was accepted as a major source of jobs for many categories of artisans and professionals, saying that the government had undoubtedly made the biggest investment ever in the provision of infrastructure.

“Yet it has been suggested in some quarters that the government is no longer employing teachers and nurses because of a ‘net freeze’ on employment. For the avoidance of doubt, the ‘freeze’ policy introduced in 2008 by the then NPP government as a way of checking the spiraling wage bill and curbing unbudgeted expenditure has not affected teachers and nurses.

“Between 2009 and 2016, a total of 78,000 teachers have been engaged, while 23,411 nurses have been employed since 2014.

“The new schools and hospitals we have built around the country guarantee teachers and nurses and other workers employment,” he said.

Expatiating on job creation, the President said a cursory look at the September 2015 ‘Integrated Business Establishment Survey’ released by the Ghana Statistical Service showed that in 2014 alone 207,492 jobs were created in three sectors — agriculture, industry and services — with the private sector contributing 86.5 per cent of the jobs, saying that had brought to the fore the reality on the ground. 

“This is why we will continue to provide the enabling environment to stimulate the private sector to partner the government to provide more jobs for our youth,” he said.

The President also said available data at SSNIT showed that over 400,000 new workers employed by close to 20,000 new businesses had been registered with the social security scheme and that figure captured only those whose employers had registered them. 

More jobs 

He said he was much  aware of and felt the frustration of many young people, including graduates, who had not yet found jobs, adding: “I am keen to address your concerns. It is for this reason that I have made the most comprehensive and attainable set of proposals, going forward, with regard to job creation.”

According to him, under the flagship Economic Transformation and Livelihood Empowerment Programme (ETLEP)  would create more jobs and enhance incomes, the government had identified a number of areas where it would create more jobs, starting from 2017.

He said under ICT jobs, the inauguration of the Accra Digital Centre was enough testimony of “our commitment to follow through on this promise and we seek to create more digital jobs for the digital youth through projects such as the Ghana-Mauritius ICT Park Initiative”.

 An official of Surfinn, a digital company, briefing President Mahama on the operations of the company. With them are Nii Laryea Afotey Agbo, Greater Accra Regional Minister, and Mr Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Employment and Labour Relations. Picture: EBOW HANSON

President Mahama said the promotion of other start-ups through initiatives such as the current Kumasi Business Incubator Project (KBIP) would create jobs for ICT-inclined youth, some of whom had developed several savvy products. 

“The tenants at the Kumasi Business Incubator have, so far, included young companies set up by young and enterprising minds. I am in love with the names — Adroit Bureau Ltd, AppNet Consult, Alloyblue, Easy Hotel Search, Africa Innovation Academy, Ravin Technologies, Greenlife Natural Health Care, Ikernel Networks, JTEK IT Solutions, KKYB Productions, Aya Multimedia Group, MapTech Logistics Ltd, TRAMO, SMERKLABS DEVELOPERS, Paragle Studios Ltd, Mnotify, Kente Master, Lexitin Company Ltd, Tec Knowlodgy Solutions, TripVane, Orbitag Incorporated, Senter 1, Pixil Motion, MnM Teknologies Ltd Industry and VYL Investment Solutions Ltd,” he said.

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He mentioned some of the other areas as infrastructure and public works investments to create another 300,000 jobs, saying that given the government’s record in providing 400,000 jobs already through the investments “we have made, you can be assured that this will be implemented”.

Other initiatives 

The President mentioned the sugar estates following the establishment of the Komenda Sugar Factory, the redevelopment of the textile industry, the robust Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) programme to produce more graduates with technical and vocational skills to fit into the world of work which included the conversion of polytechnics to technical universities, the expansion of the youth employment programme from the current 100,000 threshold to 400,000 and increasing the YES Fund from GHc10 million to GHc100 million. 

“Currently, about 100 young entrepreneurs have been supported through the YES initiative to set up or expand their own businesses and they employ at least three young people,” he said.

The President said the green revolution and diversification of Ghana’s agriculture through the production of more staple and cash crops would increase coffee production from 6,000 metric tonnes to 100,000 metric tonnes and it was already underway, as five million seedlings were currently being nursed for distribution to interested coffee farmers for free. 

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He encouraged willing young people with the appetite for farming to take an interest in the scheme, as it was a potentially lucrative venture. 

Similar initiatives would be launched for cocoa, shea nut, cashew, oil palm, horticultural products, among others, he said, adding: “And let me add the integrated aluminium industry anchored on our hydrocarbon resources, stable power supply and bauxite deposits, including the petrochemical industry and fertilizer production.” 

He said the Accra Digital Centre was a major step in putting Ghana on the map as a credible bona fide destination for local and global IT and outsourcing companies.

“This is because as manufacturing becomes increasingly automated and robots replace human capital, the IT industry continues to be one of the areas that have rapid solutions to rapidly address our graduate and youth employment challenges. These include outsourcing and the new economy jobs,” the President said.

 

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