Ghana has long served as a critical hub for telecoms cables linking Africa and Europe. But limited access and a lack of technical skills have put digital resources out of reach of many Ghanaians. The right mix of training, mentoring, and access to online technologies can help Ghanaians when it comes to health services, more opportunities for education, jobs, and entrepreneurship.
The eTransform Ghana project, initiated by the Ghanaian government and supported by the World Bank, is tackling these challenges head-on.
This $212 million project aims to provide inclusive access to digital technologies, strengthen institutional capacity, and accelerate the use of digital services.
As part of a continent-wide push to close the digital divide, it has helped connect multiple universities and has improved broadband bandwidth for more than 200,000 students and teachers to date. The project also provides grants to young entrepreneurs.
The project is supported by the World Bank’s Digital Economy for Africa (DE4A) initiative, which was launched in 2019 to ensure that every individual, business, and government in Africa will be digitally enabled by 2030, in line with the African Union’s Digital Transformation Strategy.
To date, they have helped boost entrepreneurial skills for over 11,000 young people. In total, 49 startups have been formed, and more than 1,200 businesses have been supported through access to workspace, mentoring and training.
They also help individuals and teams with business ideas progress from the concept stage to entering the market.
The project is inclusive. The Ghana Tech Lab alone has trained more than 5,400 youth in digital skills—half of whom are female. Its base program starts with a 3-month training period for digital skills.
Some trainees are selected for the incubation program, which combines more advanced digital skills with business education. Some startups formed receive seed money, while other trainees are offered internships with partners.
“When you are in a startup, you can’t implement all of your ideas because some of them may not be feasible, or you may not have the resources to pursue,” said Rosemary Kwofi, CEO of Built Accounting.
“But through the eTransform project, we were able to pick out what is potentially feasible…without that, it would likely have taken us much longer to reach the point where we can say ok, this is what works for us.”
The eTransform Ghana project is also improving various government service deliveries using Information Communication Technology (ICT). The project supports twenty Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs). For example, the e-Justice program is an initiative of the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation and the Judicial Services of Ghana.
The program is using digital technologies to transform Ghana’s court system, for example, by digitizing cases and applying online solutions to improve court management and administrative and financial systems in the high courts in Accra, the capital. This involved developing a case management system to improve the effectiveness of the justice process in Ghana.
The COVID-19 pandemic provided an opportunity to showcase digital solutions—court cases were conducted online during COVID-19 lockdowns. The project plans to scale up its activities in all sixteen regions of the country.
The eTransform project also lies at the heart of Ghana’s COVID-19 response, where its focus on restoring jobs and livelihoods through digital transformation has made it critical for promoting economic recovery.
Its work has contributed to greater internet bandwidth in government offices, health centers, hospitals, schools, and universities in more than 250 districts, including underserved parts of the country.
“This project continues to provide a robust foundation for the comprehensive pandemic digital response in Ghana,” said Kaoru Kimura, a Senior Digital Development Specialist at the World Bank and team leader for the project.
More and more Ghanaians are benefiting from better access to broadband in business, entrepreneurship, health, education, and overall quality of life. In addition, apprenticeship and entrepreneurship training develops skills and links students and job seekers with employment opportunities.
Young leaders moving through these programs are the future of Ghana. They are sharing their knowledge—bringing digital access to students, colleagues and peers.