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Aggressive ICT policy reforms necessary for robust economic growth

Posted on Monday, 14 March 2016 10:17

The African continent is said to have the lowest internet penetration rate and the highest internet prices in the world. It relies mostly on satellites and very small aperture terminal earth stations for most of its connectivity which results in high prices and the applications are slow compared to other technologies, experts say.

the decision to develop the technological infrastructure needed for accelerated development and ICT policy implementation is a political one

Youth unemployment and underemployment are also reported to be among the main barriers to development on the continent and largely responsible for rising crime rate.

The rate of joblessness among the youth in sub-Saharan African hovers around 12 percent – above pre-crisis level of 11.7 per cent, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

“Exclusion of young people from the labour force perpetuates generational cycles of poverty, it also breaks down social cohesion and can be associated with higher levels of crime and violence among idle youth,” Participatory Development Associates, a Ghanaian labour organisation says on its website.

Many global economies have undergone rapid ICT revolutions, and this is drastically transforming lives of people around education, healthcare, governance, politics, banking and entertainment, but regrettably Ghana and Africa trailed, experts said.

“This calls for a commitment on the part of political leaders to address the technological imbalance,” Kwasi Darkwa told participants at ICT conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, and called for quicker policy reforms to transform institutions and accelerate poverty eradication.

The president of Ghana Technology University College urged African leaders to master the political will and commitment to review ICT policies and develop infrastructure for the delivery of ICT enabled social services, education, banking and finance.

“Invariably, the decision to develop the technological infrastructure needed for accelerated development and ICT policy implementation is a political one,” Darkwa said.

He rated information as a vital utility, alongside water and electricity, describing information as a strategic resource, a commodity and a foundation of every activity.

“Africa continues to be poor and suffers from all the social, economic, and political pathologies that so often accompany poverty, clearly, the escape from poverty will require transformation of all our basic institutions,” Darkwa said.

“And all of these transformations of our ways of working and governing and thinking will not happen without the employment of ICT.

“Today, we speak of a knowledge economy; a digital economy, knowledge workers, and knowledge societies, participation in a knowledge society in the era of the information economy is based on connectivity to modern ICTs.

“Without adequate ICT infrastructure to move information rapidly, African development will be further marginalised.”

“There is the need for the government and other stakeholders to help shape national policies in this direction, if authorities in key decision making positions fail to act, it will be overly optimistic to expect far-reaching progress.

“Without an aggressive intervention of this nature, very little progress will be made in our quest towards the technological promise land, and history will judge us harshly if we fail to move in this direction.”

The ILO’s world employment and social outlook trends for 2016 forecast global unemployment in 2016 to rise by about 2.3 million to reach 199.4 million, while an additional 1.1 million people will likely be added to the global tally of unemployed in 2017, with sub Saharan African projected to be hard hit.

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