Manhean (GAR), June 12, GNA – The Ministry of Communications, through the Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) has commissioned two Community ICT Centres (CICs) at Kwashikuma and Manhean in the Ga West Municipality of the Greater Accra Region.
The CICs will serve as a non-profit community resource centre intended to provide business services and community-tailored development information to the communities within which they are located.
Mrs Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, the Minister of Communications, speaking at the commissioning said they would also double as a hybrid profit-making tele-centre.
She said the Centers have come at an opportune time with the outbreak of the COVID-19, without technology it would have been difficult to practice normal lives and even practice social distancing.
She said some interventions provided by the Ministry, which have aided the Country’s COVID-19 response include facilitating the establishment and management of the Emergency Call Centre (112) and the National Information Contact Centre (311).
Other are the Emergency Communication System and the Covid-19 symptom tracker App (*769#) to facilitate contact tracing and quarantine monitoring, assisting telcos to zero rate all health and educational sites.
She said the Ministry, through GIFEC was implementing the multi-faceted Universal Access to Electronic Communications Programme, to facilitate access to ICT in underserved and unserved communities in Ghana.
She said several innovative programmes and projects were being implemented and through this programme to ensure the inclusion of all Ghanaians in the digitization vision of the President.
GIFEC, as part of its mandate to reach the unconnected, is providing access to ICT equipment and service through the Cyberlaboratory Programme.
Consequently, the Ministry of Communications has established Community ICT Centres (CICs) in 241 districts and municipalities to provide access to ICT services.
These Centers function as information hubs, providing connectivity to Ministries, Departments and Agencies, private businesses and educational institutions as well as individuals in beneficiary communities.
In addition to these, the CICs serve as a hub for carrying out government business for agencies such as deploying to more underserved areas.
Mr Abraham Kofi Asante, the Administrator of GIFEC, in a speech read on his behalf, said ICT has been a driving force in the world for the past couple of decades.
He said significantly in recent years, it was the main catalyst for development in many countries.
He said the digital divide was not just about connectivity, people lack the knowledge and skills they need to succeed in a digital economy.
« Lack of skills is the greatest barrier to digital inclusion, especially for people living in unserved and underserved communities, » he added.
The Administrator said, the United Nations Broadband Commission for Sustainable Development, has called for 60 per cent of youths and adults to have a minimum proficiency in sustainable digital skills by 2025.
To achieve this goal, he said, the Ministry, through GIFEC has established Community Information Centres to serve as digital transformation centres within communities to build the digital capacities of the populace.
He said as at 2017, only 28 out of the existing 241 CICs were operational and they, therefore, embarked on a strategic turnaround programme that involves refurbishing and equipping the Centers to make them fully functional and achieve the objective for which they were established.
Mr Asante said, « Internet and ICT facilities are critically needed to facilitate online learning, business processes and human interactions ».
He said, another essential element of ensuring that all students acquire the requisite skills to explore the digital world was to build the digital competencies of teachers to effectively utilize these ICT Centres.
GIFEC has from 2017 trained over 1,100 teachers in basic ICT essentials, computer maintenance and hardware as well as coding and scratch who have in turn trained about 134,000 students/pupils.
He said Ghana was going digital and these innovative programmes being implemented by GIFEC have set the nation on the path to a vibrant digital transformation.
« No one would be left behind, » he added.
Maye Naa Sakowa I, the Queen Mother of Manhean, expressed gratitude to government for the provision of the facilities to equip the communities to be digitally empowered.
She appealed to the government to provide additional classroom for the communities and also fix the deplorable road network linking the communities.