Ghanaian minister sells tech sector investment opportunities in Canada

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Minister of Communications and Digitalization, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful has laid out a myriad of investment opportunities in Ghana’s digital technology sector in a bid to attract Ghanaians in the Canadian diaspora to come invest in the country.

She was delivering her keynote address on day two of the ongoing Ghana Canadian Diaspora Investment Summit in Toronto, Canada, organized by the Ghana Investment Promotion Center (GIPC) to strategically engage the Ghanaian Diaspora with the view to attracting their long-term investments and partnerships for Ghana’s development.

The theme for the summit if “Grow in Ghana, grow with Ghana”.

The Minister noted that over the last 25 years, Canadian exports to Ghana have been growing by 8.97% annually from US$23.8 million in 1995 to US$372 million currently, while Ghana is doing around SU$100 million worth of exports to Canada. She said that huge gap provides the opportunity for Ghanaians at home and in the diaspora to partner and do more to bridge that gap.

According to her, beyond the opportunities in trade, tourism, agriculture, health and many other sectors, loads of investment opportunities also exist in digital technology, which has proven to be the main driver of a more meaningful and sustainable development for any country.

Before spelling out the specific investment opportunities in the sector, she quickly diffused what she called the complaint that Ghana government prefer to work with Chinese tech giants like Huawei and ZTE when it comes to digital and technology infrastructure development.

She said the Chinese have often offered the easy financing options for the rollout of technology infrastructure in Africa, but there still remain loads of opportunities yet to be tapped.

The Minister, for instance, mentioned joint ventures with Ghanaian fintech firms, supply of high-tech digital and telecommunications equipment, technology parks and mini-tech hubs, building digital centres outside of Accra, back-office operations for financial institutions, business processes outsourcing, device assembling plants, the key digital governance infrastructure and last mile connectivity to improve access to unserved and underserved area as some of the untapped investment opportunities in Ghana’s tech sector.

Youth Focus

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful said Government believes that if the youth of today are given the opportunity to engage with the fourth industrial revolution (digital technology), they will become the champions in the global world of work tomorrow.

“Africa has the most youthful population in the world today and so if we take advantage of the opportunities and prepare our youth now, they will be the tech leaders tomorrow and the continent will be the better for it,” she said.

In that vein, there is a lot of investment opportunities for upscaling the youth, giving them the know-how and the skills to be able to sit in Ghana/Africa and work globally through digital technology and the platforms being built back home.

She said government is also setting up STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) institutions across the country to provide the youth with marketable skills and that is another area of investment for the Canadian diaspora to consider.

Girls in ICT

The Girls in ICT Programme, according to her, is ten years old this year, and it has already offered ICT and digital skills to 5,000 over the first nine years. She added that this year alone, government has earmarked to double the number by training an additional 5,000 girls in coding and so far, 3,000 have already been trained.

“It is our expectation that these 10,000 girls will set up their own start-ups and become tech entrepreneurs and employ many others. That in itself creates investment opportunities for Ghanaian businesses in the diaspora and you can begin by creating internship opportunities for these girls to develop their innovations better so they can add to the tech value chain,” she said.

She said the Girls in ICT programme was originally targeted at girls in the basic and secondary schools, but the ladies in the tertiary institutions insisted they wanted to be part, so now several of them are being trained in artificial intelligence, machine learning, coding, cybersecurity and others very relevant technologies.

Business Processes Outsourcing

“We are also taking advantage of our position as an English-speaking country to attract back-office business processes outsources contracts from US, Canada and Europe. We already have several Ghanaians taking up such jobs and doing marvellously from the comfort of their homes.

“This is an area that has a potential to expand further with investments from the diaspora. It will help to boost the status of the youth into entrepreneurs and help to solve the youth unemployment problem in the country,” she said.

The Minister told the Canadian diaspora that “I can guarantee you that this venture alone will double or triple your investment if you go into that area.”

She said mentioned partnerships with specialized institutions like the Kofi Annan Center of Excellence in ICT for Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning training, establishment of Data Centers, Cloud Computing and other emerging technologies in the knowledge economy as other investment opportunities.

According to her, African countries are currently working with Smart Africa Alliance to set up a Federated Cloud System on the continent so that “we can host all our data on the continent and ensure it is well protected. That also presents great investment opportunities for Ghanaians in the diaspora.”

Ghana Cares

She touched on the Ghana Cares Obatampa program, saying it was designed to stabilize, revitalize and to create jobs and prosperity for Ghanaians over a three-year period in the post Covid era.

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful told summit participants that the Ghana Cares program is currently in its second phase of supporting commercial farming and attracting educated youth into agriculture, building Ghana’s night manufacturing sector, developing engineering machine tools and ICT digital economy, developing Ghana’s housing and construction companies and renewing and optimizing the implementation of government flagships and key programs.

She said government is confident that the phase two programs will move Ghana into the industrialization and manufacturing phase, which then presents lots of investment opportunities for Ghanaians in the diaspora to form partnerships with both foreign and local businesses and take advantage of them.

AfCFTA Hub

She mentioned the AfCFTA Hub, for instance, saying that Ghanaians in the diaspora can create business hubs and connect with the recently launched AfCFTA Hub in Ghana so they could have easy access to SME producers and suppliers, as well as financiers and regulators in a one-stop-shop situation.

According, such businesses can the gain access to even more opportunities through the hub to the rest of Africa and even make and receive payments in all currencies on the hub.

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