Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful, the minister for communication and digitalization on Friday, 5th May, 2023 visited Damongo in the west Gonja municipality of the savannah region as part of her five days working visit to the area to assess and inspect the training processes of her ministry’s ongoing girl’s in ICT project in the Region.
The initiative by the communication’s ministry forms part of a global effort by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to bridge the gender gap in the technology industry.
In Ghana, “Girls in ICT” refers to the initiative that is aimed at encouraging and empowering young girls and women to pursue careers in the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector.
The Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation, under the stewardship of Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, Minister for Communications and Digitalisation and MP for Ablekuma West has since 2017 adopted the Girls-In-ICT initiative as a platform to equip girls between the ages of 9 and 15 years (Upper Primary to Junior High School) with knowledge and skills in basic ICT and Coding.
According to the Minister, the project has so far trained 100 teachers as trainers, so that they train 1,000 girls from all the Districts in the Savannah Region.
She indicated that, the training of the girls in ICT project started with the students in the Savannah Region on 25th April, 2023 with the girls in Damongo being the second batch of trainees in the region under the project which she wanted to come and witness for herself.
She explained that the second batch of trainees will be having their exams on 6th May, 2023 to enable them select the best performing girls for awards and also disclosed that the best 100 girls who will be the top performers will be awarded prizes of their own laptops.
Mrs Ursula Owusu Ekuful stressed that, she was impressed with the quality of training delivered, stating that her interaction with the girls shows that they haven’t touched laptop before and therefore encouraged the girls to take the training serious because every aspect of life needs an expert in IT, be it farming, teaching, doctors and more.
The Minister also explained that her visit has revealed that, Students under the project are able to create their own games, websites and word document which is an indication of improvement which is showing that they are achieving the theme of the year’s celebration which is “digital skills for life” which is celebrated globally to mark girls in ICT day.
The minister of communications and digitalization further disclosed that, the reason for focusing on girls is to narrow the gender digital device as it is just a fewer girls that have computer skills.
As part of motivating and encouraging girls to go into ICT, the communications and digitalization minister said they will bring experts in ICT to speak to the students to improve their interest as part of their mentorship programme for the girls to encourage them to see the importance of ICT in the utilization in the world of work.
The minister further stated that seeing the enthusiasm on the faces of the girls and the expectations of the girls, they all came with the expectations to know more about ICT and she have no doubt that they have learnt more about ICT.
The minister as part of her visit also paid a courtesy call on the overlord of the Gonja kingdom to brief him on her mission in the region and to receive his blessings to enable her carry out her activities.
Among the centres visited by minister were Cathedral Junior High School, St Anne’s Junior school ‘A’, Almanara E/A primary school and Busunu R/C Junior High school under company of the Savannah regional minister, Hon. Muhazu Jibriel and the west Gonja municipal chief executive, Hon. Musah Karim Kusubari .
The program has the following components: Trained 100 Teachers across the Savannah Region, Training of 1,000 Girls in ICT from across the Savannah Region, A Mentorship session whereby women currently working in the ICT Field share their personal and professional experiences with the Girls-in ICT, to encourage and guide them in their future careers and endeavours.
However, despite these efforts, the representation of women in ICT remains low in Ghana, with a significant gender gap in terms of access to technology and participation in the digital economy.
In addressing the issue, there is the need for a continuous effort from all sectors of society to promote Girls in ICT and as well encourage young women to pursue careers in technology.
The project which was Introduced in 2012 is implemented with support from Ghana Investment Fund for Electronic Communications (GIFEC) as the technical resource provider, with training by Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence (KACE). The programme is also supported by MTN Ghana, National Communications Authority (NCA), American Towers Company (ATC) and others.