|From next academic year, the government intends to make computer programming part of the curriculum at all levels of education.
That is meant to empower students of all ages to develop applications that can help provide solutions to the country’s information and communications technology (ICT) needs, the Minister of Communications, Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, has announced.
She said the Ministry of Communications was actively working alongside the Ministry of Education to make institutionalisation of coding possible, as that would give children the opportunity to experience a new world at a very early age.
“Institutionalisation of coding will give children the chance to compete with other children globally,” she said at the opening of the conference of IT start-ups in Accra on Tuesday.
Organised by AB2020, a technology business advocacy company, with the support of the Communications Ministry, the conference provided a platform for the discussion of opportunities and policies, as well as linked tech entrepreneurs to potential investors.
The two-day conference brought together the government, private sector and small and medium-scale enterprises (SME) communities to highlight activities, innovations and opportunities for collaboration, and to encourage the development of Ghana tech ecosystem.
“We are also developing ICT parks to promote entrepreneurship, attract private investment and enhance ICT research and development.
“Our aim is to encourage the transfer of knowledge and development of human resource capacity to meet the increasing digital demands of the country and to boost youth employment,” Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said.
With the government turning to ICT to formalise the economy through initiatives such as the National Property Address System, the Ghana Card and the Paperless Port system, as well as e-government portals, the minister said technology was the most important enabler of the world today, as it was the very force that pushed the economy through innovation, change and economic development across the continent.
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Mrs Owusu-Ekuful said although the 2018 budget had no allocation for the provision of laptops to students, she said the government would find money to make one-child, one-laptop a possibility.
“The ministry will make it a point to provide one laptop, tablet or device to every school-aged child in Ghana, to enable them to experiment, explore or learn more about technology,” she said.
She stated that the rapid and sustainable long-term growth of the economy, to a very large extent, was dependent on local businesses and tech start-ups.
The minister, however, noted that a lot of start-ups failed to grow due to the absence of research, development avenues and poor financial resource to build on innovations.
She reiterated the government’s commitment to invest in local businesses and SMEs by designing a comprehensive policy that would grow those businesses.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful stated that development and innovations for tech start-ups could be realised through effective collaboration between partners, both in the same sphere and from other sectors.
To birth Ghana’s version of Silicon Valley, she said, the government intended to build technology parks and hubs around the country, starting from Accra, Kumasi and Takoradi.
Registration of businesses
Contributing to a panel discussion, the Head of IT of the Registrar General’s Department, Mrs Doris Ampadu-Ameyaw, said the department had simplified business registration and, therefore, the days when prospective business owners had to join long queues to register their businesses were over.
She explained that as a result of digitisation and technological advancement, business owners could sit in the comfort of their homes and register their businesses.
For his part, the Chief of Staff of the Vice-President, Mr Augustine Blay, urged the tech start-ups to take advantage of the country’s tech revolution, particularly the National Digital Property Address System, to develop their businesses.
With the Accra Digital Centre opened for business, the Managing Director of the centre, Mr Ofosu Nkansah, said it had incentives, including cheaper rent and advisory services for tech start-ups.