- Despite competing against continental heavyweights South Africa and Egypt, Ghana managed to come out tops to the host of the Africa Regional Conference of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), currently being held here in Accra. Ghana's accelerating communication technology sector had shown the way ahead.
Head of the National Planning Committee for the WSIS Africa conference, Mike Gizo sees this as another symbol of his country's vision to embrace the goals of Information and Communications Technologies (ICTs), for development.
Speaking briefly between telephone calls in the busy corridor of the Accra International Conference Centre, Mr Gizo remarked that Ghana's action plan speaks of "ICT for accelerated development." "We are moving at the cheetah's pace in the process," he proudly commented.
Some 800 delegates from around the world have been converging on the Accra International Conference Centre and the Kofi Annan India Centre of Excellent to discuss "Access - Africa's key to an inclusive Information Society".
Following a meeting between the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) and the African Network Operators Group (AFNOG) here in 2002, Mr Gizo said his 26 member committee felt confident about hosting this event. All preparations started during the middle of last year and some 150 volunteers have been mobilised to ensure the smooth running of events.
- This conference is really an eye opener for Ghanaians who are not IT literate, believes Taiwo Thomas, an exhibitor marketing the services of CIS at the conference. "So far the visitors are impressed with the many home-grown products we have here. This conference will showcase how innovative Ghanaians can be," echoes Andrew Ameyaw, who is selling Persol's services.
Asked how much the conference will cost his country, shuffling through papers, Mr Gizo said "I'm still spending, but I have a budget."
The conference has been given great importance by Ghanaian authorities, keen to place their country on the worldwide ICT map. Ghana's President John Agyekum Kufuor yesterday opened the event and called on Africans to unite and present a common front on issues affecting the continent.
- We appear to be prisoners of our colonial past with each little country clinging to its telecommunications network, said President Kufuor. "Let us harmonise telecom infrastructure usage under a common regulatory environment on all sub regions of Africa under the NEPAD arrangements and come out with an African ICT infrastructure backbone plan that will run across the whole continent and beyond," he urged.
The WSIS preparatory conference opened yesterday with pomp and fanfare here in Accra. The three-day conference is a gathering of African ICT and communications officials, members of civil society and business to prepare an African agenda for the WSIS. About 1000 delegates from 51 African countries, including Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, and Mohammed Ghounnushi, Prime Minister of Tunisia, were in attendance.
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