National digital plan required to accelerate digital economy – GFPA Prez

President-Ghana Fintech and Payments Association, Martin Kwame Awagah

President of the Ghana Fintech and Payments Association, Martin Kwame Awagah, has said a national digital plan is necessary to accelerate the country’s digital economy – adding it is a key way to see that the varied digital initiatives of government fit into the grander scheme of things.

He further indicated that involving all stakeholders or players in the space is crucial in ensuring Ghana can rub shoulders with advanced countries in technology. “The roadmap will assist in aligning and defining the country’s strategic vision as we are leapfrogged into the web3 era,” he said.

Since onset of the pandemic, technology has become more prominent in daily lives; seeing businesses digitalising activities and payments and largely putting companies out on the global marketplace.

In Ghana, for instance, the drive to implement digital efficiencies in its operations can be seen through government’s lenses by it spearheading several initiatives across the lengths and breadth of the country – with efforts like mobile money interoperability, (which is government’s digital services and payments platform), Ghana Post digital address system, integration of national databases using Ghana Card being among other inclusive digital plans of government.

It is against this background that Mr. Awagah – speaking at the maiden edition of Digital Foundation Africa’s Monthly dialogue in collaboration with the Societe Generale Innov8 hub, in Accra – indicated though these initiatives are currently leading a surge in the operations of a cashlite economic agenda, digital financial services, e-commerce, widening the tax base and improving general business productivity, there is still need for a national digital plan.

“How do these varied digital initiatives of government fit into the grander scheme of things without a holistic national digital plan or framework paper to ensure we can consolidate these achievements in order to be enabled in addressing the country’s main challenges in this technological age and its digital development objectives?” he questioned.

Adding his voice to the call, Policy Lead from the Tony Blair Institute of Social Change, Blaise Bayou, highlighted that although most sectors of the Ghanaian tech landscape – such as edutech, agritech, fintech, insurtech and healthtech – are emerging steadily, it lacks a sense of direction for ensuring a digital economy.

“Efforts by government have nonetheless placed Ghana on the map as a country that is fostering the promotion of a digital economy which will unravel numerous opportunities and benefits to the country; however, those efforts will be more prudent if there exists a roadmap to guide the end goal.”

A technology expert, Vicentia Asilevi, noted that stakeholders must revisit research into areas of Web3, Artificial Intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things and blockchain, among other emerging technologies that will enhance the conduct of – as well as unravel the numerous opportunities for – the country’s business and employment.

“A digital plan is irrelevant if it fails to implement the element of inclusivity for women’s participation, as well as allow for the training of more women in these emerging technologies,” she added.

Another expert, George Adjebeng, expressed worry over how most people in deprived areas and the physically challenged, especially, are left out when policies or national plans aimed toward digitisation are developed.

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