World Bank MD visit boosts partnership and innovation

Anna Bjerde, World Bank Managing Director for Operations, interacting with Deputy Communication Minister, Ama Pomaa Boateng, at the Ghana Innovation Hub

In an effort to bolster cooperation and explore avenues for innovation-driven economic growth, Anna Bjerde – the World Bank Managing Director for Operations – embarked on her first visit to an African country since assuming her position in early April.

During her trip to Ghana, Bjerde engaged in a series of fruitful discussions with Ghanaian authorities and took the opportunity to visit various development projects.

One of the significant projects she visited was the New Gbawe Municipal Assembly Basic 1 School, supported by the IDA-funded Ghana Accountability for Learning Outcomes Project (GALOP). Another key highlight of her visit was exploring the cutting-edge tech hubs – Ghana Tech Lab and Ghana Innovation Hub – which are making strides in cultivating digital entrepreneurship in the country.

Reflecting on her visit, Ms. Bjerde stated: “I’m doing this trip as part of my outreach and to get a feel for our programmes in the countries that have them, as well as how the World Bank can evolve to serve our clients even better – especially given the challenges many countries, including Ghana, have faced in recent years”.

At the New Gbawe Municipal Assembly Basic 1, Ms. Bjerde witnessed the positive impact of GALOP’s support in improving education standards. The school scored above the national average in English and mathematics during the 2021 National Standardised Test (NST) for Primary 4 pupils. Moreover, in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), 99 percent of candidates qualified to enter senior secondary school in 2022. GALOP’s investment of US$210.7million has significantly contributed to the success of Ghana’s education sector, benefiting over 2.9 million students across the country.

Discussing the importance of GALOP, Bjerde emphasised: “The long-standing relationship between the World Bank and Ghana has been particularly intense during the COVID-19 pandemic, as we stepped-up our support to help the country get through the crisis. We are here again to advise and support economic policies that can help get the economy back on track, create jobs and unleash the country’s development potential”.

During her visit to the tech hubs, Ghana Tech Lab and Ghana Innovation Hub, Bjerde expressed her enthusiasm for the opportunities they provide to Ghana’s youth. The hubs play a pivotal role in imparting digital skills and nurturing innovation for young entrepreneurs, with a strong focus on inclusivity.

“The Ghana Tech Lab and Ghana Innovation Hub are inspiring examples of how digital innovation and entrepreneurship can thrive. These hubs equip the youth with relevant digital skills, stimulate innovation and create pathways for startups to grow. Such initiatives are vital for Ghana’s progress in the digital era,” Bjerde stated.

Ghana Tech Lab, established in June 2018, has trained over 22,300 participants; with approximately 57 percent being female. It offers programmes in various fields including Robotics, Business Development, Graphic Design and Mobile App Development. The Ghana Innovation Hub, on the other hand, supports young entrepreneurs through its incubation programme called ‘innv8GH’. Since its inception, over 9,600 participants have attended training at the hub – with more than 1,683 new jobs directly created.

With the recent declaration of a Ghana Digital Acceleration Project (GDAP) that aims to scale-up the country’s digital entrepreneurship and innovation ecosystem, Ghana is well-poised to position itself as a regional digital entrepreneurship hub in West Africa. Additionally, the GDAP will provide tailored digital skills training for Persons with Disabilities (PwDs), thus enhancing their access to digital technologies and broader labour market participation.

As Anna Bjerde’s visit concluded, the World Bank reaffirmed its commitment to supporting Ghana’s development agenda, leveraging innovation and driving economic growth through the power of digital transformation.

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