Africa’s youthful population is secret weapon for rapid growth – Veep

Vice-President Dr. Mahamudu Bawumia on Monday said Africa’s budding youthful population whose exuberance and ingenuity is challenging stereotypes and everyday conventions is the secret weapon to accelerate economic growth and industrial transformation.

He therefore urged African tech-entrepreneurs to take advantage of the challenges posed in various sectors of the economy – education, banking, agriculture and industry, health and infrastructure – to create solutions that meet the demands and desires of consumers.

He noted that the world is undergoing the Fourth Industrial Revolution and technology is driving the business environment globally; therefore, it is prudent for African governments to form partnerships with the private sector to solve the needs of their people.

He also urged African governments to harness the creativity and ingenuity of the growing technological phenomenon to accelerate economic growth and improve the lives of their people, noting that technology had changed life-dynamics across the world.

Vice President Bawumia said this at the opening of the Third Africa Leadership Conference, christened ‘Africa Rising’ and held on the theme ‘Technology Trends Versus Consumer Choice – Who’s Determining the Future?’

The two-day event was organised by the International Advertising Association (IAA) in collaboration with the Advertising Association of Ghana (AAG), and attracted business leaders, advertisers, marketers and brand managers from across the globe to brainstorm on advertising strategies and leverage on technology to solve societal challenges.

Vice-President Bawumia said Africa should no longer stand on the sidelines of development, awaiting donor support, but should become the centre of rapid innovation and adoption of technology.

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Throughout colonial history, the African continent has been described in unflattering terms, such as a ‘Basket Case’, ‘the Dark Continent’ and other negative descriptions.

However, things are changing for the better with multi-party democracy gradually entrenching in most parts of Africa while most of the fastest-growing economies in the world are currently found on the continent, he noted.

President Nana Akufo-Addo has unwavering belief that Africa is capable of rising to take its rightful position in the comity of nations, and that motivated him to fashion a ‘Ghana beyond Aid’, which is also an ‘Africa Beyond Aid’ toward industrialsing and transforming the economy, Dr. Bawumia added.

He said government views technology as a critical problem-solving tool to drive economic growth and societal development; therefore, on assumption of office in 2017, it rolled out a number of digital initiatives to improve efficiency in service delivery and eradicate corruption. as well as break away from the mindset of impossibility to possibility.

Some of the technologically-driven initiatives include: the national identification system, digital property addressing system, e-Justice system, e-business registration, paperless ports system, e-smart driver’s licence, and mobile money interoperability platform to enhance financial inclusion of Ghanaians.

The Vice-President said Ghanaians are now experiencing the benefits of digital services, which is gradually transforming the national economy and improving efficiency of many government agencies – citing the piloting the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture’s electronic payment platform, which increased its revenues by four-fold.

He said government will turn all the old post-offices into Internet service centres to enable people receive efficient services; and announced that by June next year, government will go cash-lite and no longer receive cash payment for any government services.

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Vice-President Bawumia said the path Africa has chosen in reaching its full potential is not an easy one, and thus urged business leaders attending the conference to play a distinctive role toward the continent’s revitalisation.

“The Transformation story needs to be told because it is in telling our stories that we will appreciate how far we have come, the challenges we’ve overcome…it is in telling our story that we uncover the opportunities ahead of us; let not the ‘Africa Rising’ story be an event or only nurturing entrepreneurship and good governance, but also ensure more inclusive policies that open the pathways and platforms for development of many,” Dr. Bawumia stated.

Mr. Srinivasan K. Swamy, Chairman and World President of the IAA, in his welcome address expressed concerns about the various data protection laws being implemented globally to protect consumer privacy – citing the European Union’s Data Protection Regulation, which came into effective in 2018.

Some of the concerns he raised include enforcement of the data protection legislation that will restrict accessibility of certain critical information about corporate entities and individuals regarding drafting advertising messages.

He therefore called for a fair balance between protecting consumer privacy and advertising, so that it will not have negative effects on the advertising industry.

The International Advertising Association was established in 1938 to shape public opinions, promote growth, creativity, professionalism, education and advocacy.

It is currently operating in 56 countries worldwide.

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