Accra: The Ten Targets
Accra has been of interest in our past few articles. This being the last of the series, we follow up from where we left of. In our previous article, we spoke at length on how Accra can win at technology. Highlighting sectors like Energy, Healthcare, Business, IT, Agriculture and Transportation, we expand and explain how exactly these areas can be improved upon in this edition.
Therefore, here are the top 10 areas Accra needs to work on:
1. Internet: Faster and more stable
The internet and technology go hand in hand. You only need to spend a few days in Ghana to realize how unreliable the internet can get. Currently, only three companies provide internet of 4G fibre capacity. Out of these, only one goes beyond Accra. Now that’s not a good look for a country tipped to take over in technology. This has to change and it has to change NOW!
2. Entry: Quicker visa processing
Unlike other African countries, including neighboring country, Cote D’Ivoire, there’s NO visa on entry in Ghana. While this is a good requital for the western world, business-wise, Ghana seems to be on the losing side. Not being able to secure visas for multinationals as quickly can slow down development. Imagine trying to bring in some professionals to help kick-start your tech business, but not being able to because of visa problems.
3. Business Registration should be less complicated and faster
Getting your business registered in Ghana is as complex as it comes! And for non-Ghanaians, it’s an even longer process. For efficiency sake, Ghana must make sure business registration only takes a few hours. In 2018, we should be able to do these kinds of things online. Tax receipts, company information and others should be available on a separate system, accessible using the internet. Also, paying to register a business that would generate revenue for the country is not ideal.
4. Stable power and electricity
It’s no secret that Ghana has had serious power issues in the past. Someway somehow, the problem is still not completely resolved. ‘Dumsor’ is still lurking around and power outage can occur at anytime, any day without warning. This can stall businesses and disrupt development in the long run. Who would want to invest in a country which depends on power ships and an ‘antique’ hydroelectric power system?
5. Top-notch healthcare services
One thing Ghanaians can surely not boast of is healthcare, especially emergency healthcare services. There’s always one excuse or the other. Limited ambulance services, a problematic health insurance system, not enough hospital beds and lack of oxygen masks are only a handful of the many deficiencies in the health sector. “Healthcare in Ghana is generally terrible. God forbid you have an accident and need treatment after dark, or have a serious condition and don’t get lucky. We’ve all lost close friends and family due to poor healthcare and the time has come to shake things up”, Tom McDonell laments in his article. No skilled person would like to live in such conditions, and definitely not people from tech advanced countries who want to help.
Top 10 things Accra needs to improve in Technology
6. Access to capital and tax incentives
This may look like a long shot but is indeed necessary. Technically, Ghana may not have enough funds to support new businesses, but in our own small way, something can be done. Banks and credit facilities should be able to provide capital to startups to help them get comfortable. Huge collateral and high interest rates, as it currently is, does not ignite any spirits of entrepreneurship in this country. The government’s seemingly lack of interest in entrepreneurship and innovation does not make things any easier. Ghana can emulate, in their own way, some practices of more developed countries like Ireland– which boosts both local and foreign investment by offering relaxed tax systems.
“Exchanging significant tax reductions for investment in innovation and local training could make a tremendous social and economic impact and speed up relocation or establishing innovation centres. Ultimately it will lead to greater tax receipts, it should be a no-lose situation”, McDonnell added.
7. Access to public and private sector piloting
This point buttresses the previous one perfectly. Small businesses should be able to access information on successful private and public companies. This way they can gain first-hand knowledge on the real-world business atmosphere. It is useful for young, rising entrepreneurs as they can make the most out of this in their journey to success.
“Through a combination of formal and informal introductions, schemes and workshops, pairing new ideas with businesses and public institutions (e.g. hospitals, tax offices), that need them, can help those that are destined to fail, fail faster; and those that can succeed, succeed quicker”.
8. More software programming training and education
While the topic of interest is technology, it is only logical for there to be a more prolific IT scene in the country. Both experienced local tech firms and international ones should come together to create training opportunities for the young, talented ones out there. This is exactly what we, German-IBT, aim to do. Our strategy is to train and enlighten the Ghanaian youth to bridge the gap between business and technology, while tackling societal challenges with advanced global techniques.
“Learning to code is not about doing a degree, it’s not about pieces of paper, it’s about actually learning to code”.
9. Attractive packages for returnees
We cannot overemphasize the importance of skilled, savvy Ghanaian nationals who want to come back and help. In fact, so many of them actually want to return, but where is the true motivation? Just like China, Ghana should adopt ways of attracting returnees. “China has this locked down — if you’re a highly qualified, talented Chinese scientist or tech person and want to go back and start a business in one of their tech zones, they will make it worth your while”, Tom’s article disclosed. So why then can Ghana not implement schemes like this? Providing good healthcare, better paying jobs, great housing to competent returnees should not be an issue for Ghana in 2018.
10. A renewed atmosphere for technology & leisure
Lastly, it would be excellent for Accra to overflow with modern leisure activities. All work and no play can be dangerous physically, especially because working in tech can be a strenuous mental activity. Amusement parks, gyms, football pitches, water parks and more can help relax the body, after a long week of being mentally drained. To pen off McDonnell’s masterpiece, here’s a quote:
“There is no reason why Ghana cannot have dynamic, beautiful technology parks like those in Silicon Valley, London, Berlin or Dubai. In fact, Ghana should aim to do them better”.
This ends our three-part article on “How Accra can become a top Tech City”. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.
*Source: Original piece written by Tom McDonnell of Medium.com