The World Bank has pledged to support Ghana in four thematic areas including; capacity building, regulatory framework, digital platforms and infrastructure enhancements as part of a Digital Infrastructure Moonshot for Africa.
The pledge came after Ghana’s Communications Minister Ursula Owusu-Ekuful asked for assistance from the Bretton woods institution towards the expansion of the e-Transform Project and other government of Ghana programmes aimed at bridging the country’s digital divide.
Responding to the Minister’s request when he paid a courtesy call on her Tuesday 26 March 2019, the World Bank’s Vice President for Africa Hafez Ghanem said:
“What we are going to do is to support you in four areas: enhancing infrastructure, regulatory framework to increase competition and improve service delivery, capacity building and digital platforms to ensure government of Ghana’s realization of its agenda to digitize every facet of the country”.
Zeroing in on the government of Ghana’s digitization agenda, Mr Ghanem observed the success of the digitization agenda will bring about unparalleled efficiency in all public and private institutions as well as help in effective clamping down on corruption.
“We are convinced that, we can use the digital technology to improve governance, to reduce corruption, to improve transparency among others. It is really a strong instrument in improving governance,” he added.
He urged the Communications Minister to prepare a proposal to the World Bank for consideration, saying “we are happy to support you” to the delight of Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful.
Vice President Ghanem also expressed his frustration with the high cost of internet in low-to-middle income countries including Ghana and urged the Communications Minister to adopt measures to bring the cost down.
A research findings released in October 2018 by the Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) showed that more than 2.3 billion people live in countries where just 1GB of mobile data is not affordable.
In her response, Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said the government of Ghana has already begun processes aimed at pushing the cost of internet down in the country.
She said there will be an industry forum early next month to force a consensus on the way forward.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful also stated a high level engagement with the regulator and the industry operators had been ongoing for some time now to promote greater infrastructure sharing and competition with the aim of forcing the internet cost to fall.
“There’s a huge appetite for data in this country which we are not being able to meet and so we see that there’s an opportunity, there’s a commercial opportunity for the private sector to also take advantage of.
“So we have begun having meetings around several issues including; sim registration, equipment identity registration among others to clean up that space and make it more secured and less easy for people to use their devices for formulating criminal activities. We are going to have an industry forum early next month to put all these conversations forward and force a consensus on the way to go,” she added.