The Rockefeller Foundation has announced a US$ 3.8 million grant to the Ghanaian government, in partnership with the World Bank, to support the establishment of world class facilities that will attract IT and IT-enabled firms, including Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms, to Ghana and create jobs for Ghanaian youth.
The grant complements the World Bank’s US$5 million, provided under the eGhana Project and is part of the Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa initiative launched in 2013, according to a press release, obtained by PANA here Wednesday.
The initiative is a US$100 million programme aimed at improving 1 million lives through ICT skills and jobs for high potential but disadvantaged youth.
It said that “As a result of the grant, a new mini ICT Park, to be located in central Accra, will be completed by August this year, and is expected to have the potential of providing direct and indirect employment to over 10,000 people, primarily youth, who have few alternative job opportunities.”
Recent research, funded by the Rockefeller Foundation and issued by the Dalberg Institute, identifies access to real estate as the primary barrier to expanding the BPO sector in Ghana, and thus hinders creation of new jobs for an increasingly unemployed youth population.
It will also help address that constraint directly by providing the funds for the Ghanaian government to create a world class Facility.
The proposed centre is expected to function as a mini-ICT park, whose impact is expected to move Ghana up the ranking among the Tier 2 countries, but most importantly the IT and IT enabled services (ITES) sector is deemed most likely to absorb large numbers of unemployed and disadvantaged youth.
“As the Rockefeller Foundation enters its second year of our US$100 million Digital Jobs Africa initiative, we applaud the commitment of the Ghanaian government for steering the hiring at this new state of the art ICT Park towards poor and vulnerable youth – which will help to achieve our ultimate goal of impacting the lives of 1 million people through digital jobs for disadvantaged youth. This project will transform the landscape of Ghana’s IT/ITES sector while ensuring that disadvantaged youth are the ultimate beneficiaries.
“When young people are empowered economically, the entire nation will benefit,” said Mamadou Biteye, Managing Director of the Rockefeller Foundation Africa Regional Office.
The Rockefeller Foundation’s Digital Jobs Africa initiative is being implemented in six countries in Africa – Ghana, Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt and Morocco.
The grant follows on from the Foundation’s 2012 support to the Ghana ITES Secretariat, a World Bank seeded implementing agency under the Ministry of Communication, to train and employ 150 youth to digitize government records.
In September 2013, the World Bank approved the US$97 million eTransform project which builds on the earlier eGhana project. Both projects seek to use ICT to improve the reach and efficiency of private and public service delivery and create jobs.
The ICT Park is an important piece of the World Bank’s support of Ghana’s ICT strategy.
Commenting on the project, Dr. Edward K. Omane Boamah, Ghana’s Minister of Communications, said: “We were pleased that the Rockefeller Foundation shared our vision around Ghana’s ICT potential.
“Not only can we transform the ICT sector, making Ghana internationally competitive, we can provide opportunities for hundreds of disadvantaged young people who have the skills and drive to work in the digital economy, but are only lacking the access and opportunity.”