Foreign apps ‘killing local content’
By BiztechAfrica – April 3, 2013, 12:18 p.m.
By Nana Appiah Acquaye, Accra, Ghana
The Chief Executive Officer of the Kofi Annan – India ICT Center for Excellence, Dorothy Gordon, has bemoaned the dependence on foreign app solutions by Ghana’s IT managers.
According to her these solutions are not adaptable to the economy making it difficult for the country to thrive successfully in the area of Information, Communication and Technology (ICT). “There is a lot of dependence on foreign solutions which are not adaptable to our economy. They are horribly expensive; taking money away from things we could be doing ourselves “she said .
Speaking exclusively to BiztechAfrica alongside a forum held in Accra under the theme “Connecting Millions of Africans onto the Internet”, Gordon noted that government is putting in more emphasis on local companies to grow so that they can meet the market demand in the country.
Answering the question as to whether Ghana is doing enough to connect everyone onto the internet, she said the country is doing all it can to connect as many people it could onto the internet using many platforms, including the mobile networks which cover the whole country with huge subscriber bases.
“Yeah, we are getting there and we need to get there faster, we need to get more people on board faster and that’s a big issue. In Ghana, we have a great deal of confidence with our ability which has been demonstrated, we have consistent leadership when it comes to the African continent,” she added.
According to her, in order for compete effectively globally, Ghana has to speed up in terms of its adoption of some of these new technologies and the spread internally within the country. She explained to BiztechAfrica what she meant by the ‘spread’.
“When we talk about spread, its generally means we have far too many people in Ghana who cannot read or write, and who cannot use the mobile phone effectively given that, these are currently applications available to boost productivity. To do that, we are just using the voice function, like for example: I want to buy yam, how much is your price, but you could do so much more managing your customers, doing business analysis, selling to many other countries there is so much that is possible.”
“So it is making sure that throughout Ghana, people are using computers or they will to use ICTs here in Ghana that we are actually using ICTs to drive our business growth. There is a lot of talk here about IT and education. We have government trying very hard to bring new devices into the country. But hardly anybody in Ghana today is willing to use their mobile phone to learn something which can help them with their work, and which can also help them with their studies.”
Gordon said the Kofi Annan Centre has been working actively to start teaching younger people how to code. “You will see a developer which has been in existence for seven years to go into the university – they already have apps which have been released.”
“Luckily we have a lot of young and brilliant developers, they have tested this and have seen people are interested in the application; they want to take it to the market, and how do they get people to pay for it? If you go to the operators, usually we hear they will ask for a 70/30 revenue share, 70% for the company and 30% for the developer. Meanwhile, the young developer’s parents are getting frustrated because they are in their bedroom coding all the time and not making any contribution to the household economy, so then the guy will get frustrated and he will say ‘Ok! Let me go and get a job somewhere’. And once he goes to get a job somewhere, he will not have the time to be developing as to creatively if he had his own start-up company.”
“So we really need to actively support more start-ups and this is a challenge, because all over the world you will see that there are many places who are trying to support start-ups. How do you find whose idea is a genuine idea, and so you have to accept that when you are working with start-ups, they are learning lessons in how to do business.”
And then you will see that gradually by pairing them up also within the mentors and linking them to experienced business people and then you will see that you have a company of young eco-system people coming up. So you see that you have to prepare to seek some investment into this sector and help those companies come up. We also need to encourage Ghanaian women to enter the sector. There are lot of women making millions in IT please join them. Get on board, make it happen!”