The Ghana Export Promotion Authority (GEPA) is exploring the prospect of using the country’s information technology sector’s potential to increase revenue generated from Non-Traditional Exports (NTEs) by organising an IT fair in Accra.
The tech fair, which was organised in collaboration with the Accra Digital Centre and themed ‘Growing our own: the need to use African Tech Solutions’, was aimed at creating the necessary business linkages, partnerships and collaborations for players in the sector.
Speaking at the tech fair, CEO of GEPA Dr Afua Asabea Asare said to achieve this goal, her outfit has identified some strategic services sub-sectors for intense market development and promotion across the ECOWAS and entire AfCFTA. These services, she said, include medical tourism with emphasis on specialised centres (both private and public), consultancy services/professional services, educational services and Business Processing Outsourcing (BPOs)/IT.
“The IT and IT-enabled sector has seen a tremendous transformation over the last decade, with the establishment of small and medium-sized tech enterprises that have interesting and export-oriented projects and concepts.
Realising the huge potential of this growing sector and in line with the NEDS strategy of positioning Ghanaian firms in the AfCFTA, GEPA has identified the Accra Digital Centre (ADC) as a key stakeholder to develop and promote the services of players in the IT space by projecting them in the ECOWAS region and the entire AfCFTA,” she said.
She further expressed confidence that the country has what it takes to become a major IT hub, given investment in IT infrastructure and programmes which have created a conducive environment for technology to thrive.
“I believe Ghana is poised to take the lead role in the sub-region when it comes to IT and IT-enabled services. Ghana has a low-cost, high-quality professional talent pool; Plug and Play enclaves such as Accra Digital Centre; existing Free Zone Economic regimes which offer favourable and investment-friendly regulations; transparent investment laws; good English-speaking accent; time-zone affinity; and annual IT graduate supply of more than 25,000.
“Another major reason for the growth of IT-enabled service in Ghana is the infrastructural support the country offers to firms in this sector. The larger GEPA strategy is to develop the sector to the extent that it can contribute an amount representing more than 10 per cent of total NTE earnings annually. Our longstanding reputation for facilitating and linking SMEs to international markets through organising market linkage programmes such as Trade Missions, Exhibitions or Trade fairs has been earned by achieving tremendous results over the years, and we are resolved to do more,” she said.
Also speaking at the fair, Deputy Trade Minister, Dr Fareed Arthur, commended GEPA for its foresight in organising such an important fair; saying it is a major step for players in the IT space entering other markets on the continent, further urging them to maintain the highest level of standards.
“This fair will serve as a major step toward entering the ECOWAS and the rest of the African market. Additionally, this forms part of the broadest strategy outlined in the National Export Development Strategy (NEDS) to enter the AfCFTA market through market and export development and promotion.
“Ghanaian products have strong brands in the African market. Similar to our products, our infotech solutions and offerings should also maintain the highest standards tailored to the needs of the African market,” he said.
He reiterated the government’s commitment to supporting the IT sector to thrive in the country, and even beyond.
“Artificial intelligence has been developing rapidly around the globe. The manufacturing industry is adopting more AI technology than ever to optimise production lines. Realising the enormous potential of this sector, the government has designated special areas to be used as industrial and technology parks for businesses – including firms operating in this space,” he said.