Aggressive ICT Policy Reforms Necessary for Robust Economic Growth in Africa

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Policymakers have recently been urged to launch an aggressive intervention into the information, communication and technology (ICT) industry to stimulate rapid economic growth and tame growing youth joblessness and insecurity in Africa.
The African continent is said to have the lowest internet penetration rate and the highest internet prices in the world. It relies mostly on satellites and very small aperture terminal earth stations for most of its connectivity which results in high prices and the applications are slow compared to other technologies, experts say.
Youth unemployment and underemployment are also reported to be among the main barriers to development on the continent and largely responsible for rising crime rate.
“Exclusion of young people from the labour force perpetuates generational cycles of poverty, it also breaks down social cohesion and can be associated with higher levels of crime and violence among idle youth,” Participatory Development Associates, a Ghanaian labour organisation says on its website.
Many global economies have undergone rapid ICT revolutions, and this is drastically transforming lives of people around education, healthcare, governance, politics, banking and entertainment, but regrettably Ghana and Africa trailed, experts said.
“This calls for a commitment on the part of political leaders to address the technological imbalance,” Kwasi Darkwa told participants at ICT conference in Ghana’s capital, Accra, and called for quicker policy reforms to transform institutions and accelerate poverty eradication.
The President of Ghana Technology University College also urged African leaders to master the political will and commitment to review ICT policies and develop infrastructure for the delivery of ICT enabled social services, education, banking and finance.
“Invariably, the decision to develop the technological infrastructure needed for accelerated development and ICT policy implementation is a political one,” Darkwa said.
He rated information as a vital utility, alongside water and electricity, describing information as a strategic resource, a commodity and a foundation of every activity.
“Today, we speak of a knowledge economy; a digital economy, knowledge workers, and knowledge societies, participation in a knowledge society in the era of the information economy is based on connectivity to modern ICTs. Without adequate ICT infrastructure to move information rapidly, African development will be further marginalised.”
The ILO’s world employment and social outlook trends for 2016 forecast global unemployment in 2016 to rise by about 2.3 million to reach 199.4 million, while an additional 1.1 million people will likely be added to the global tally of unemployed in 2017, with sub Saharan African projected to be hard hit.

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