Gov’t Builds Capacity Of PWDs In Digital Skills

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Ursula Owusu Ekuful
Ursula Owusu Ekuful

Government is in the process of establishing regional innovation centers to provide citizens with access to ICT facilities, services.

This was announced by the Hon. Minister for Communications and Digitalisation, Ursula Owusu-Ekuful when she addressed a Workshop on Digital Accessibility for Persons With Disability (PWDs) in Ghana at the Ghana-India Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence In Ict (AITI-KACE).

According to her, digital tools provide the means for providing dignified sustainable jobs for all, and present an excellent opportunity to provide job ready digital skills for all and reduce unemployment, and solving multiple problems.

She averred that “Whether you are vision, hearing, speech, developmental or mobility impaired or suffer from any other disability, there is digital technology available to provide you with a decent quality of life. Disability is not Inability.”

The sector minister indicated that her ministry is working diligently to promote digital inclusion due to the enormous benefits it provides to both the individual and the entire country.

She stated that government would ensure that all citizens benefit equally and equitably from digital skills, products, and services as it is determined to narrow all forms of the digital divide.

“We are actively working to narrow the gender digital divide and I think women living with disability suffer a double this project provides us an opportunity,” she said.

She noted that government is establishing a digital Ghana in which all citizens are equipped to contribute meaningfully and the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, “which is tasked with overseeing and coordinating all ICT-related activities or initiatives, has invested in digital infrastructure, which the public and private sectors are leveraging to improve our socio-economic development.”

She admitted that when Persons with disability are given the right skills and provided with assistive technologies they would be able to take advantage of the available job opportunities and even work remotely, conveniently and safely.

Ursula Owusu-Ekuful stressed the fact that government has put in place measures that would help position Ghana as a vibrant ICT hub.

Among these measures she said, are the establishment of the Ghana Digital Center, which provides the necessary environment, infrastructure, and services to support ICT growth, digital skills training for people in unserved and underserved communities to address the digital skills gap under GIFEC, Rural Telephony and Digital Inclusion Project and digital training for PWDs provided by GIZ among others.

She said: “We have established community information centers in all districts to support access to ICT tools as part of the sustainability measures for these digital training.”

The minister encouraged any group of people to submit requests to KACE for capacity building or special training needs in ICT, as the Ministry will offer the needed support.

She also urged the private sector and developing partners to provide assistive technology-enabled handheld devices such as screen readers, magnifiers, captioning, transcription, subtitles, wearable devices, and others and encouraged the youth including the physically challenged to utilize the Ghana Digital Centre and ICT Labs to develop ICT solutions aimed at addressing social issues including the peculiar ones faced by PWDs.

World Bank
The World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Seira Leone and Liberia, Pierre Laporte said the workshop falls withing the two main goals of the World Bank which are reducing poverty and increasing shared prosperity.

He averred that digital skills are necessary to close the digital divide which impacts the lives and growth of people.
According to him, the digital divide is mostly caused by inadequate digital tools, poor digital skills and lack of inclusion.

He, therefore, called for collective efforts from government, civil society, academia and citizens to address the situation.
PWDs

Executive Secretary of the National Council on Persons with Disabilities (NCPD), Ms Esther Akua Gyamfi on her part enumerated that members of the 26 categories of PWDs face several issues that hinder their access to employment.
She said lack of digital skills results in their inability to access government portals which marginalizes them and prevents them from accessing information online.

She suggests enhancing access to affordable ICT services and providing a framework for making online content assessable to PWDs.

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