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Ghana Positions Itself To Be ICT Hub For West Africa

posted 14 Mar 2013, 10:59 by Mpelembe   [ updated 14 Mar 2013, 11:00 ]

Ghana is constructing a second new technology centre with the promise of thousands of jobs and hopes that the country can be an ICT hub for the region but analysts fear funding issues will stunt development.

 MALLAM, ACCRAGHANA  (REUTERS) - With the recent launch of a second new technology centre in Ghana, expectations are high for the number of jobs on the horizon and the prospects of the country becoming an ICT hub for the region.

While there are other information and communications technology clusters on the continent, Ghana is positioning itself to lead the way in West Africa, building on it's strong telecom sector.

At the launch of the new multi billion-dollar development known as 'Hope City' on March 4th, Ghana's president, John Dramani Mahama spoke of the opportunities the park will create.

"Ladies and gentlemen, government is particularly excited that this business initiative is being led by a local company RLG, and the project has many potentials for sustainable creation of jobs for our young people," he said.

Local technology giant RLG are behind the ambitious project, which they aim to have completed in three years.

When up and running, the park promises to employ over 50,000 people and offer 25,000 a place to live, as well as a 75 storey tower, the tallest in Africa.

On the east side of the capital, in Tema, construction has been underway since May last year on a government spear-headed technology centre.

Although initial plans had to be scaled back due to lack of funding, the area is being prepared and one unit is due to be built by July this year.

"The completion of both projects will contribute greatly to making Ghana an ICT hub for the sub region. Let me emphasise that the two projects will be complementary to each other and not in competition," Mahama told the guests at the Hope City launch.

Alhassan Umar, director of ITES (Information Technology Enabled Services) a part of the Ministry of Communication, is in charge of the 50 acre site in Tema.

With a budget of 10 million US dollars he says a lot more investment is needed to complete the project.

"We as government, the government of Ghana was just an initiator, we want the private sector to come and drive the park and so because ICT, the Tema ICT park is also the first ICT park in Ghana this is what the government wanted to do start the.. initiate it and allow the private sector to capture it and allow private investors to come into Ghana and build technology park all around Ghana throughoutGhana just like we have in India and other places," he told Reuters Television.

RLG, which operates out of a futuristic looking office in Accra, has an equally innovative vision for its Hope City project.

Despite its estimated 10 billion dollar price tag, planners are confident that Hope City will succeed and help Ghana become a global attraction for the business community.

"So we are expected to attract the best in the world and so all the best in the world don't be surprised you're going to have the best brains in Silicon Valley all of them will be stationed here and they will help our people to grow the talent that we are looking for and so we are not just looking at ourselves, we are creating a synergy across the globe," said RLG boss, Roland Agambire

Technology parks around the world such as Silicon Valley in America, the Smart Village in Egypt and Innovation Hub in South Africa have managed to persuade large companies to invest in them, however Theophilus Yartey, deputy editor ofGhana's Financial and Business Times warns the expectations for Hope City should be managed, due to economic strains in Europe and America.

"My worry about hope city is the funds needed to implement it, it's a 10 billion dollar project and I am wondering where the money will come from, looking round the international markets are almost dried up, I mean there are no funds around," Yartey told Reuters.

Ghana, a major cocoa and gold producer that began pumping crude oil in late 2011, is among Africa's fastest-growing economies. It was also the first African nation to get connected to the internet in the 90's.

While the plans to put it firmly on the ICT map are in place, it will be several years yet until the country's ambitious dreams can be realized.