By Eugene Davis
A Digital Economy Policy Document is being firmed up by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation for adoption in a move that is expected to deepen the gains chalked in the digital transformation of the economy.
The Director General of the National Information Technology Agency (NITA), Richard Okyere-Fosu, disclosed this at the 2023 edition of the Tech Job Fair organised by the Institute of ICT Professionals Ghana (IIPGH) under the theme: ‘Leveraging technology to create inclusive and sustainable jobs.’
Mr. Okyere-Fosu stated that a critical element required for the success of the document and the wider digitalisation agenda is the development of the right kind of skills to support the country’s digital economy and emerging technologies.
Making a clarion call for stakeholder collaboration in achieving this, he stressed the importance of developing the right calibre and number of professionals to support the digitalisation agenda.
His comments came at a time where efforts are being ramped up to benefit more from the booming global digital economy – which is projected by the World Economic Forum (WEF) to reach US$20.8 trillion by 2025, with the continent’s digital economy currently worth an estimated US$115 billion and is expected to hit US$712 billion by 2050.
Analysts are buoyed by the growth potential of the African digital economy, owing to huge gaps for exponential growth. Domestically, ICT has been the runaway growth leader in the economy for more than a decade, growing at 20.3 percent in the first half of 2022, and propelling the Service sector, which is expected to contribute approximately 47 percent to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) between now and 2026.
The NITA DG, however, warned that digitalisation could come with significant risks if the process is not managed well and the right structures are not put in place.
“When investors are considering investing in a country, some of the major factors they look out for are whether the country has the right human capital to support their investment. This means for our country to continue attracting the right kind of investors, we need to make a deliberate effort in developing professionals not only in their skill set but also in equipping them with the right work ethics. There should be a reliable framework for verifying these professionals,” he added.
This sentiment was similarly shared by the Project Manager at the AFOS Foundation, Hanna Schlingmann, whose outfit provided sponsorship for the fair.
According to her, the rapidly-expanding pool of local talent, coupled with the strong desire of young people to innovate and bring about lasting solutions to existing problems ensures the country will remain attractive to investors in technology training.
She added that with the fast pace at which technology is evolving, there is a need to ensure that training and education keep pace with these developments so that participants are not left with redundant knowledge.
‘Training must be aligned to what the industry needs and must increasingly be more practical, offering learners real-life exposure as well as being future-proof,” she said.
On his part, Executive Director at IIPGH, David Gowu said the Fair – which saw more than 1,000 students in attendance – provides the most ideal platform for young persons to interact with key industry stakeholders, one which he believes will go a long way in minimising the unemployment burden.
“The role of guidance cannot be overemphasised as far as a career path is concerned and this is what we continue to achieve through the Tech Job Fair,” Mr. Gowu said, adding that that the last edition – the fifth – saw jobseekers find employment.
The national unemployment rate – as captured by the Annual Household and Expenditure Survey (AHIES) – accelerated to 13.9 percent in the second quarter of 2022.