Parliament on Thursday, July 30, 2020, approved a loan facility of $115 million to drive the digitisation of the country’s economy.
The facility between the Ghanaian government and the International Development Association (IDA) is meant to secure additional financing for the e-Transform Ghana project.
Over the last few years, there have been efforts by the Akufo-Addo led government to improve the country’s information communication highway to ensure that Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can be leveraged as a tool for sustainable development.
To achieve this, the government has provided the necessary regulatory environment to ensure that ICT and its related services are harnessed to its full potential.
To address the existing gaps and in fulfilment of government’s commitment to pursue and harness the potential of ICT to facilitate rapid economic diversification, improve efficiency, productivity and transparency of both public and private institutions, the eTransform project was designed in 2014.
The project, supported by $97 million World Bank funding, is to address key constraints and anchor the deployment of e-government applications to improve transparency and accountability in the delivery of public services.
Implementation of this project started in January 2015 but was fraught with some challenges initially due to the uncertainty over the implementation of a national digital ID program.
This compelled the Akufo-Addo led government to seek additional funding to finance the eTransform project which aims at improving the efficiency and coverage of government service delivery using ICT.
The $115 million loan facility is due to be repaid over the next 25 years with a grace period of 5 years.
Presenting the report of the Finance Committee on the facility, Chairman of the Committee, Dr Mark Assibey-Yeboah said the additional funding will among others complete the digitisation of archives and other public records thereby facilitating online searches.
He also noted that it will help increase internet bandwidth for government use, including for district health centres and hospitals, tax revenue, GIFMIS among others.
Touching on the importance of the facility at a time the country an the world as a whole is grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Assibey-Yeboah said the facility will be the driving force behind the country’s eHealth strategy which will provide a direct boost to COVID-19 preparedness, through support to telemedicine, mHealth and associated capacity building.
“With more and more people using the internet due to the viral outbreak and the need to stay-at-home, most people and institutions have resorted to the use of the internet for their activities thereby putting an increased strain on the country’s internet capacity,” he said.
The New Juaben South MP also enumerated the benefits of the facility in the educational sector saying campus WiFi networks will be provided at two new universities and additional internet bandwidth provided for universities to facilitate online teaching and learning.