Ghana 's Minister of Education, Science and Sports, Papa Owusu Ankomah, has announced that his country's government will introduce universal ICT education into Ghana 's core educational system in September.Papa Owusu Ankomah, Ghana's Minister of Education, Science and Sports took the opportunity to make the annoncement while opening an ICT training workshop for researchers from both Ghana and neighbouring countries to consider his country's future policy on ICT. He was able to declare a major change - in the very near future.
Thirty-five attendees from Ghana's immediate neighbours and from as far way as South Africa, were attending the Research ICT in Africa (RIA) workshop. Minister Ankomah appreciated the need expressed by employers for consummate ICT skills: it was becoming essential for finding work.
He not only noted that proficiency in ICT was becoming a pre-requisite for securing employment: he had authorised an extension of ICT knowledge to the remotest parts Ghana through his department's ICT for Development programme.
A key plank of Papa Owusu Ankomah's policy is that progress in the use of ICT can be sustained if it is backed by an intensive research system. RIA earned his respect for dedicating itself to just such research.
Bridging the urban-rural divide
"We can bridge the gap between urban and rural communities using ICT," said Professor Emmanuel Owusu Bennoah, Director-General of the Centre for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in reply to Minister Ankomah but sharing his concern about Africa's low uptake of ICT and the Internet (33 million Internet users in Africa - just 3.6% of all Africans.
Professor Bennoah was also critical in every other area of communications involving (or not involving) Africa: lowest number of fixed and mobile phones anywhere, and a mere 15% of mobile telephone subscribers worldwide. And this was at a time when ICT was influencing every possible area of human activity - its rate of deployment was an indicator of just how well a country was actually developing.
So what was Professor Benoah's set of problems? Lack of access, poor ICT infrastructure, high illiteracy, high service costs, poor service quality and inadequate investment. Thus he urged the solutions to the problems: "The trend might continue if the continent does not re-double its efforts in developing strategic ways of developing ICT services, capabilities, utilisation and applications."
* RIA is a network of people who research into the use of ICT and its impact in Africa. Its objectives are in line with the aspirations of the New Partnership for Africa's Development to harness potentials for development.