Mrs Ursula Owusu- Ekuful, Minister of Communications and Digitilisation says the Ministry is committed to closing the gender gap in the Information Communication (ICT) Technology ecosystem.
She said there was a huge gap in the ICT ecosystem and it was the goal of the Government to ensure that girls and young women in Ghana were supported to participate fully in the digital journey of the country.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful made the remarks during the launch of the 10 Days Residential Training Artificial Intelligence with Career Guidance Session for Girls in Tertiary Schools in Accra to equip them with Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, and a Business Competition to crown it.
She said since 2012 when the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), one of the United Nations specialized Agencies responsible for Telecom/ICTs, suggested the idea and urged countries to celebrate the Girls in ICT Initiative, Ghana had been dedicated to the celebration.
‘‘I am happy to say we are making a significant impact in the lives of Ghanaian girls and breaking the notion that ICT is a preserve for men,’’ she said.
Mrs Owusu-Ekuful noted that the world had transitioned from manual to digital systems to enhance efficiency, transparency, accountability, ease of doing business and education and many others.
She said there had been transformation in the way people communicated, with the social media platforms and the availability of the internet making communication much easier and relatively affordable.
According to the Minister, mobile phones had become a working tool in people’s hands, hence, it had become very difficult to live without them, hence the need to empower Ghanaians, especially girls and young women to take up careers in the Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics and Innovation (STEMI) fields.
The digital systems being implemented by Government, she stated, required digital skilled manpower to operate and manage for the benefit of the citizenry, thus, the workshop was one of the modules they had been intoducing to the Girls in ICT Initiative and with the support of Huawei would become an annual programme.
She encouraged participants to exhibit enthusiasm and commitment throughout the training period and assured them of the support of the Deputy Minister and the Ministry’s Digital team throughout the programme.
‘‘…I also hope that going forward you will become ambassadors to preach the ICT gospel to the younger ones in the primary and SHS schools.Other ladies like you have progressed to occupy key positions in the ICT sector and I am of the firm belief that with determination, you ladies can achieve greater heights, ‘’ she said.
Madam Jennie Zhou, Director of Public Relationship, Huawei Technologies,Ghana, said the significance of technology could not be underestimated given its impact on societies and economies and as the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) because, all hands were needed on deck to fully realise the full potentials of digitalization.
She said the World Economic Forum gender gap report indicated that women represented around 26 per cent of the STEM workforce in developed countries with a far lower number for developing countries and men outnumbering women majoring in most STEM fields.
‘‘It is in line with this that Huawei decided to partner the Ministry of Communications and Digitalization’s Girls in ICT Programme this year through our Huawei Women in Tech and Seeds for the Future Initiatives, to promote ICT education and motivate more girls to consider taking up careers in STEM while contributing our quota towards the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 5, of achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls through ICT,’’ she said.
In the digital era,she said, the most important measure to bridge the digital gender gap is through education, hence, whether it is college education or social training, we need to give women more opportunities to participate in the digital profession.
Mr Richard Okyere-Fosu, Director General, National Information Technology Agency, advised participants to take the opportunity ,be patssionate about it, embrace, enjoy and utilise it well since technology was all over the world and was also the ‘new normal’.
He commended the Minister for the introduction of the Girls in ICT initiative.
Mr Collins Yeboah-Afari, Director General of the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, said the course outline for the training of the girls had developing areas in ICT therefore it was appropirate and a step in the right direction.
He assured the Ministry of their continuous support for the Girls in ICT project which would create an environment for more girls to be in the ICT space, and also give them employment opportunities.
Mr Yeboah-Afari expressed desire for the training to be done monthly or quarterly to create an enabling avenue for more girls to learn ICT to achieve their desire of being in the technological space.