Keynote Address

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Keynote Address

  1. 1. KEYNOTE ADDRESS DELIVERED BY THE DEPUTY MINISTER FOR INFORMATION, SAMUEL OKUDZETO ABLAKWA AT THE OPENING OF A TWO- DAY WORKSHOP ON THE DEVELOPMENT & IMPLEMENTATION OF A NATIONAL BROADBAND STRATEGY FOR GHANA Dodowa, Saturday August 29, 2009 Ladies and gentlemen, permit me to welcome you on behalf of His Excellency the Vice President, John Mahama, Minister for Communications Haruna Iddrisu and on my own behalf to this workshop. It is our expectation that the workshop will be very successful in its entirety, which means that there will be a workable outcome and very soon the country’s Broadband Strategy will be out- doored. Ladies and gentlemen one of the main reasons why we are lagging behind the rest of the world, both as a continent and country is because we failed to make the best use of the resources God made available to us. Thankfully, information and communication technology have presented us with a new opportunity to bridge the gap our failures created, but – and it is A VERY BIG BUT- we are lagging behind again. There is only one reason for our present situation, when it comes to ICT, and that is because we have not taken advantage of the new technologies that abound. We have missed valuable years already, and as a government we agree with industry practitioners that we cannot wait any longer to harness the opportunities that a high speed broadband networking brings us, they are enormous. As experts in the field, I will not seek to tell you what you already know and pretend that I know more about the convergence that the Internet brings us, not to talk about the excitement social networking sites have generated all over. Your workshop maybe long overdue, but it is good it is taking place at this time and as I said earlier, it is our hope that the outcome will be fruitful. As a government, we have taken note of the 2009 World Bank Information and Communications Development Report which shows that each 10% of broadband penetration results in a 1.21% increase in per capita GDP growth in developed countries and a 1.38% in developing countries. What other justifications do we need as a government and people to do what is right and necessary? As a country, we have lagged behind much of the developed world in the
  2. 2. broadband deployment because we failed to pay the desired attention to it. Indeed, the broadband problem should have been resolved some five years ago, like many countries did but we were asleep believing rather naively that he magic of the market will get us there. Hopefully, ladies and gentlemen, efforts like this would get us there. The National Democratic Congress (NDC) promised Ghanaians in its 2008 manifesto to push for the rapid deployment of the country’s ICT infrastructure including a reliable national backbone that has the capacity to carry high- speed voice, video, data and internet facilities to all districts. Now that we are in government, we are committed to the realization of the promise on page 92 of the manifesto document to ensure that broadband high speed internet connectivity is available in every district capital. To this effect, the government of Professor John Atta Mills is committed to removing all entrenched flaws in our communications market structure. We will make sure that there is productive competition in the market and ensure that public networks are wholesome only. Ladies and gentlemen, no retail service provider will be allowed to exercise a dominant influence in the marketplace. These measures will maximize competition and innovation and also help drive prices down. Of course, the market and the private sector are integral to broadband progress specifically and to digital transformation in general. However, the absence of committed, sustained and strategic actions by government to drive digital transformation will continue to put us behind other nations, and that this government assures you will not happen. We have made progress in the last few years with the promulgation of the National Information Technology Agency Act, National Communications Authority Act, and Electronic Transactions Act. In some 15 years or so, we will look back and be thankful that a decision was made to develop a strategy that will ensure we have broadband availability in Ghana. Once again, permit me on behalf of the Vice President to congratulate you for this initiative and this forum, and we wish you smooth, insightful and thoughtful deliberations.

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