The World Bank last week approved US$200million to help government increase access to broadband, enhance the efficiency and quality of selected digital public services, and strengthen the digital innovation ecosystem in Ghana to help create better jobs and economic opportunities.
Digital is one of Ghana’s best-performing sectors and grew on average by 19 percent per year between 2014 and 2020. Today, Ghana is among the digital leaders in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Digital Economy diagnostics conducted in 2020 identified key bottlenecks that need to be removed to further accelerate Ghana’s digital transformation.
Building on previous investments, particularly through the ongoing World Bank-supported e-Transform Ghana project, this newly approved Ghana Digital Acceleration Project is supporting a regulatory shift to create an enabling environment for digital inclusion and innovation; streamline governance and delivery of public services; and facilitate smallholder engagement in data-driven digital agriculture.
“Expanding digital access and adoption, enhancing digital public service delivery, and promoting digitally enabled innovation are essential for Ghana’s digital transformation, which will help drive a robust COVID-19 era recovery,” said Pierre Laporte, World Bank Country Director for Ghana, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
“The Ghana Digital Acceleration Project covers all these elements and will help advance the whole-of-government digital transformation agenda to accelerate adoption of digital technologies and innovation by key productive sectors – such as agriculture – to foster an economy-wide digital transformation,” he added.
The project will help strengthen the local digital entrepreneurship ecosystem and improve the survival and growth rate of digital technology-enabled start-ups. This goal will be achieved through supporting more effective innovation ecosystem coordination, better service provision by Entrepreneur Support Organisations, expansion of access to early-stage financing, and promotion of advanced digital innovation skills.
The Ghana Digital Acceleration Project is expected to increase access to mobile internet and broadband services of 6million people by encouraging private sector investment in last-mile connectivity in underserved rural areas. It will also promote digital inclusion for women, persons with disabilities and rural communities through regulatory updates, investments, among others. This will help to remove barriers to broadband and digital service access for Ghana’s lowest-income people, and to close the regional digital gap.
“Public sector digitisation under this operation will continue the e-Transform project’s digital public service delivery’s ongoing efforts to help generate significant economic and developmental benefits for people, businesses and government, such as increased efficiency gains and time savings for the society and the economy,” said Maria Claudia Pachon, Senior Digital Development Specialist of the World Bank and Task Leader of the project.
“The digitisation of government services will also result in significant cost savings due to decreased travel and processing time to obtain services, as well as transaction costs such as manual entry errors, fraud and corruption,” she added.