The Ghana government has awarded a $150 million contract to Huawei Technologies, a Chinese-based ICT and telecommunication infrastructure company, to provide modern infrastructure to ensure internet broadband availability countrywide within the next 24 month.
Mr. Haruna Iddrisu, Minister of Communications, announced at the opening of a two-day international conference on Business Processes Outsourcing (BPO) that the infrastructure was expected to facilitate the linking of Internet Point of Presence to all district capitals under the government’s ICT Backbone Development Programme.
The conference is being organized by the Ghana Association of Software and IT Services Companies (GASSCOM), the World Bank, Information Technology Enabled Services (ITES) Secretariat, and the Government of Ghana under the theme “Outsourcing to Ghana, Africa’s Golden Gateway”.
It was intended to celebrate Ghana’s successes in the BPO industry and to further position the country as the preferred destination for domestic and foreign investment in the BPO and Information Technology Enabled Service (ITES) amongst emerging destinations in Africa and across the world.
According to ratings done by AT Keaney, a US-based Outsourcing Industry Ratings Company, overall, Ghana was 15th best destination among 50 countries rated on Financial Attractions, Skills Availability and Business Environment.
Ghana was first on Financial Attractions due to the relatively low levels of income in the country, and 50th in Skills Availability, which indicated that there was the need for more skills training in ICT.
Mr. Iddrisu stated the government’s commitment to ensuring that the required human capital was developed to facilitate the promotion of the country as an attractive destination for BPO/ITES sector.
He assured investors that government was also committed to ensuring that security and privacy of information was also upheld within the context of BPO/ITES, saying that a Data Protection and Privacy Legislation for the Regulation and Protection of Information would be submitted to Cabinet shortly for presentation to Parliament as part of the government’s e-legislation project.
“During the year, the Ministry of Communications will also facilitate the development of additional legislations in the area of data protection and intellectual property for investors in the area of data capturing and management to operate within the confines of international guidelines and rules,” he said.
He cautioned the telecom and ICT service providers that they owed their customers standard care, to protect their privacy and the confidentiality of the information they share or receive by being on their network.
In a speech read for him, Vice President John Dramani Mahama said under the ICT backbone development programme, government would seek to harmonize the efforts of the private sector in the extension of affordable and efficient connectivity solutions to all parts of the country, including the remote areas.
“In addition to the SAT3 connectivity, Glo and Main One will commence the construction of two additional landing stations by the end of this year to take care of the issues of bandwidth redundancy,” said the Vice President.
Mr. Mahama said government would also strengthen and resource the agencies responsible for regulating the ICT and Outsourcing industry to ensure sanity therein and to keep the country’s effort at attracting more outsourcing contracts on course.
Ms. Mavis Ampah, Senior ICT Policy Specialist at the World Bank, who presided, said currently there were 3,000 jobs worth about $45million in the outsourcing industry in Ghana, adding that globally there was a potential of $470 billion worth of revenue in the industry, but that only 15 per cent of that had been exploited so far.
She said recent research indicated that Ghana was well positioned to benefit from the industry, adding that the country’s target within the next four to five years was to create 40,000 jobs and generate one billion US dollars in the BPO/ITES industry.
Ms. Ampah was confident that “it is possible” but there was the need for more commitment in the area of skills training to lift the country from the bottom position.
Mr. Kojo Hayford, an Executive of GASSCOM said the conference was intended to find ways of positioning Ghana as a service hub, not only in the IT industry but, also in several other sectors affected by ICT, including education, trade, and heath.
Topics being discussed at the conference include Overview of the Outsourcing Industry in Ghana, Ghana’s Competitive Advantage, Benefits of Outsourcing for Ghana, Opportunities for Outsourcing in the Telecom/IT sector, and Opportunities in Call Centre Business.