AHEAD OF THE CURVE

Ghana 2018 | TELECOMS & IT | FOCUS: LEAPFROGGING IN ICT

Once private players overcome trust issues to follow the government's digitalization agenda, Ghana will be able to capitalize on a number of opportunities in software systems, network infrastructure, and cloud services.

As the World Bank's projected fastest-growing economy in 2018, Ghana is by no means insulated from the disruption technology is bringing, and will continue to bring, to the global markets. As a society emerging in the era of data responsibility, the Black Star realized the need to shift to an economy driven by data and the discipline of data analytics. According to Gartner, over the next six years, the world's information will grow by 800%, with most of that data being unstructured. These numbers called for a change. In the hope the private sector would follow into its footsteps, the government answered.

The first step came with the implementation of GCNet MDA, part of the single electronic window Ghana TradeNet for online submission, processing, approval, and distribution of a wide range of trade-related documentation by all public sector players. This system facilitated the successive digital policies: the roll out of national identification card and digital addressing system; the implementation of a portal where customers can book online a service to load containers at the Tema Port; and the future issuance of a radio frequency ID and deployment of scanners to match the container to the truck electronically. However, the broadband internet market still remains the top priority in terms of financial and political efforts, and all eyes are now on those B2B ICT service providers to step up. According to International Development Company, Africa is expected to see ICT spending rise dramatically through investments in cloud, big data, and mobile. For Ghana, just like all countries seeking to diversify their commodity-based economy, ICT represents an invaluable chance to transform its economy and bridge the gap with sector leaders—a chance that the private sector should not hesitate to embrace.
There is no doubt that for the ICT sector the next two to three years are expected to be dynamic, disruptive, and laced with innovation. Rapid change will present significant opportunities for technology providers across the industry landscape—MNC vendors, telecom operators, system integrators, IT services companies, distributors, and others. The opportunities posed by the current lack of infrastructure are paired with a highly tech-savvy workforce compared to regional neighbors. Around 90% of the interviewees in The Business Year: Ghana 2018 admitted the country has a competitive advantage in the human skills sphere.
However, in order to tap into this workforce effectively, industry leaders and stakeholders will be required to make several smart bets and moves. This is especially visible given the hurdles players are faced with enhancing market readiness for cloud services. As mentioned by Joseph Yaw Asumang, Oracle Ghana's Country Director, “The biggest challenge in driving this cloud agenda is the initial pushback that is mainly founded around concerns of security and data residency. Some organizations are not comfortable with parting with their data.”
This is not surprising in a country whose approach to “the new” has always entailed a substantial degree of skepticism, leading to slower acceptance and adoption compared to its regional neighbors. Trust still plays a huge role in shaping business dynamics in Ghana, and the new administration knows it very well. Efforts in building security infrastructure are on their way, such as the newly announced National Cyber Security Policy & Strategy. However, businesses must witness first hand the economic benefits of outsourcing technology systems.
Ghana's ICT sector is ripe with opportunities, from the software service field, to the provision of connectivity to various businesses, to the cloud arena. Efforts to leapfrog in this space might place Ghana ahead of the disruption curve.