The recurrent refrain that runs through conversations with Ghanaians about what their dreams are, is the liberties that come with economic freedom. For many Ghanaians, finding opportunities that enable them improve their living standards is what they dream about. For a long time, however, this dream has proven elusive. What is comforting is that technology can provide solutions to overcome the challenges that obstruct people from achieving their dreams. In many countries, technology has become a fulcrum around which the cultivation of both national and individual dreams are pursued and achieved. New technologies have been responsible for advancing society and changing the ways people live.
As progressive as technology is, technology qua technology is not autonomous. The effect it has on society is the product of any society. In other words, the effects of technology are an embodiment of the societies that create it, manifesting their needs and intentions through design and implementation. If Ghanaians have to harness the power of technology to achieve their dreams, then the country has to evolve technologies that address their specific and felt needs.
Technology and socio-economic progress are inextricably linked. The effective and appropriate deployment of technology opens up opportunities that facilitate the realization of dreams. It is in this vein that it is important to fast-track the formalization of the economy. At this point, I would like to commend the government of Ghana for leading the charge to provide unique identities for more than 90% of our citizens; and to provide over 70% of our citizens with addresses to make them bankable. The easy access to Tax Identification Numbers (TIN), Drivers License and Passports will all go a long way to contribute to the formalization and of the economy in order to reap the full-blown benefits of technology in our country.
Take electronic commerce for example. Technology is changing the way trade is conducted today. Many people are able to offer goods and services to a wider market through technology and the power of the internet. Hitherto unemployed people have found income making opportunities because they found technologies that are relevant to their needs and lifestyles.
What remains critical is the mainstreaming of technology into the national psyche of the country. There is ample evidence that suggests that acceleration of economic growth and technology development in any country hinges on a strong link between education and industry. As a result, industrialized countries strive to make university-industry link a focus of their innovation system, to increase productivity, sustain progress and remain competitive in the global economy.
Furthermore, given our peculiar circumstance as a developing country, there are critical measures, relative to infrastructure that need to be put in place to address the gaping digital divide that exists in the country. Although the proliferation of mobile phone has somewhat reduced the lack of access to technology, there is still a lot to be done to ensure that the majority of Ghanaians have access to internet and digital infrastructure to make every Ghanaian dream attainable.
It is key that, as a country, we recognize the fact that the prospects of citizens in realizing their dreams is tied to the number of opportunities available to them and the enabling environment that is deliberately created for them to thrive. Within this framework, technology is critical and we must evolve solutions that ensure that Ghanaians have access to technology and are leveraging it to realize their dreams.
In this crucial discussion, a national conversation that brings together key stakeholders from different sectors of the Ghanaian society needs to be had. Institutions from all sectors and levels of the society must come together to co-define what the problem is and evolve solutions that will change lives. But whatever conversations and discourses are had, the onus lies on policymakers to ensure that the decisions taken at national dialogues are put into practical measures that produces concrete results. The Ghanaian dream may not be well defined in our national psyche as a people. Whatever be the case, however, it is a given that across the world, technology is a propeller of visions and dreams no matter how big.
Kojo is the Communications Manager, Stanbic Bank