In late 2019 the novel coronavirus began its entry into the world. By March 2020, the virus had entered Ghana. In Ghana and elsewhere in the world, measures to limit spread of the virus restricted movement and mass gatherings. Some of these measures meant that people could no longer move freely. Schools shut down. Places of worship could not operate for a while. Business operations were hampered. Even the CEO Summit was postponed. Ghana’s growth rate for 2020 was a meagre 0.4% – a sharp decline from the average rate of 6% realised in the previous three years.
To mitigate impacts of the measures, many businesses resorted to digital and virtual technologies that enabled them keep going. Little-known technology platforms such as Zoom became a staple for many. Digitally biased companies became the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic in the midst of a worldwide economic recession.
The CEO Network decided to be part of the solution. First, the Network launched the ‘CEO STOP THE SPREAD’ campaign. This was an effort to conscientise CEOs to show leadership to help our country to vanquish the virus and its adversities. Further, we also mobilised and donated a substantial amount of funds to the Covid-19 National Trust Fund established by government under the chairmanship of former Chief Justice Sophia Akuffo.
With restrictions being eased in the wake of vaccinations, the 5th Ghana CEO Summit – which is to be held on May 17 and 18, 2021 – will focus on churning out solutions for post-pandemic economic recovery. The changes we have already seen in response to COVID-19 have proven the need for a swift reset of all aspects of our economy. This will require stronger and more effective government and private sector-led engagement every step of the way. The pandemic presents a window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our economy to create a healthier, more equitable and more prosperous future.
It is against this background that in 2021 and beyond, the Ghana CEO Summit will through our digital transformation-themed programmes support conversations among CEOs and business leaders who are redefining digital business transformation as an engine of future value for their organisations and society. And to make this happen, coordinating public and private initiatives is key.
The 2021 theme, ‘DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION: Powering Business and Government Reset for a Post-Pandemic Economic Resilience – A Public-Private Sector Dialogue’, will make the case for a great reset of Ghana’s economy to make it digitally resilient.
The unprecedented disruption by COVID-19 is accelerating the pace and urgency of digital acceleration, agility and adaptability among companies of all shapes and sizes. The public sector is not exempt from this development. The pandemic has exposed the need to improve technology efficiency for continuity of government and business. Now is a watershed moment for the digital transformation of business and government.
Digital transformation is not a new endeavour for business, but what’s new in the midst of COVID-19 is that it is a moment for successful leaders to now seize the opportunity to advance a new trajectory for digital transformation. This must align with the changing role of business and government to be a powerful enabler of long-term value creation for all its stakeholders.
The digital dividend is gigantic, but the digital divide is gaping. To fully harness benefits of the digital dividend, Ghana needs a Digital Economy Act. This Act will harmonise all the core policies of digitalisation, create a framework to boost and regulate the digital economy, and ensure inclusion of all aspects of the economy. It is expected that this Act will provide an incentive for further investment into the digital economy by the private sector. It will also quicken the pace of adoption for digital technologies by businesses, government and the populace as a whole.
Since its inception in 2016, the Ghana CEO Summit has been an advocate of technology and innovation in business and government. It has become the foremost thought-leadership platform for high impact learning, high level business meetings, and identifying trends affecting the business world.
It is the foremost business conference for decision-makers, CEOs, heads of state, entrepreneurs, investors, diplomats, and policymakers. The summit has been an attraction for more than 2000 CEOs and leaders including President Nana Akufo-Addo, Vice President Mahamudu Bawumia and African Union Commission Deputy Chair, Ambassador Kwesi Quartey.
About the author
Ernest De-Graft Egyir is a Management Consultant and an Executive Advisor to Topmost CEOs. He is the founder and CEO of the CEO Network and Ghana CEO Summit.