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Regional News Thu, 29 May 2003

National ICT Committee Meets Department Heads in Bolgatanga

Mr Andrew Awuni, Deputy Minister of Information, said at the weekend that the National Information and Communication Technology (ICT) policy currently under discussion would engineer socio-economic development only if it related directly to the vital sectors of production.

He cited agriculture, education, health and telecommunication as some of the areas ICT could be utilized to maximize efficiency adding that in the field of law enforcement, the establishment of databanks and networking the various regional Police departments by ICT would allow for more effective policing.

Mr Awuni was speaking at a meeting between Regional Heads of Departments and members of the National ICT Policy and Plan Development Committee in Bolgatanga.

The meeting was meant to sell the ICT idea to heads of government establishments and to enable them to make an input into the ongoing discussions on a national ICT policy.

The Deputy Minister said the public service could benefit effectively from teleconference technology, as heads of departments from the regions would not have to travel to Accra most of the time for meetings.

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He said all over the world, economies that continued to prosper were those that were advanced in the information technology industry, adding that it was high time Ghana moved away from being a mere exporter of agricultural produce to a nation that exported knowledge based on ICT.

"The fact that our phone lines easily get disrupted with the slightest rainstorm shows how precarious our position is on the information technology map," he observed, but indicated that there was a strong commitment on the part of Government to lead the nation into a new technological era.

The Chairman of the National ICT Committee, Professor Clement Dzidonu, intimated that his team would recommend the Upper East as one of the two pilot areas in the country for the implementation of an e-governance project on experimental basis, saying the outcome of the project would give an idea as to the impact the ICT programme would have as far as the development of rural communities was concerned.

He said the other pilot area would be selected from an urban setting, and that if the government accepted the proposal the requisite funds would be sourced for the exercise to commence without delay.

Professor Dzidonu urged the Regional Coordinating Council to put together a policy document to provide a basis for the pilot project, and said the document should capture the relevant departments and sectors where ICT would tremendously enhance productivity and accelerate the area's socio-economic development.

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Another member of the National ICT Committee, Mr Mohammed Sani Abdulai announced that a national ICT policy document would be available as early as next year.

He explained how ICT technology was being utilized in other parts of the world and for improved fire-fighting techniques, tracking down traffic offenders on the motorway and in Ghana for facilitating passenger bookings on the State Transport buses by eliminating queues.

The Regional Minister, Mr Mahami Salifu said by recommending the Region for the pilot study, the Committee had thrown a challenge to the administrative authorities but expressed the confidence that "the hardworking people of the Upper East would certainly live up to the challenge".

He tasked the Regional Coordinating Director to form a local committee without delay to commence work on the Regions policy document, involving all the six district assemblies in the area.

Source: gna