What is ITES Ghana and what are its objectives?
PINKRAH-SAM: ITES, that is the Information Technology Enabled Services Secretariat, is the arm of the Ministry of Communications of Ghana that is mandated to support the growth of ICT investments in the private sector. So basically our role is to support the growth of indigenous ICT companies and also to attract and retain ICT investments in Ghana. We do this in collaboration with the Ghana Investment Promotion Council, which is the main body of the government in charge of all investments. We do also collaborate a lot with the Ghana Free Zones Board and the Ghana Export Promotion Authority.
What new initiatives is the ITES currently involved in?
PINKRAH-SAM: ITES is involved with numerous ICT initiatives. Basically, what we are into now are three apps where we focus on human resource development, especially in the outsourcing industry and support for the industry players, and also investment promotion, where we do match-making for indigenous Ghanaian companies to match the giants of the world in the outsourcing industry. We are very mindful of the fact that ICT is a global issue and there is nothing like Made in Ghana ICT stuff. So looking at human resources, our resource pool, the trained pool, is such that we can tap into it at any minute when you are ready, whether you are an indigenous company or an investor looking to relocate to Ghana.
To what extent has the government invested in ICT in Ghana?
PINKRAH-SAM: We have five submarine and land cables on the shores of Ghana. The government has invested so much in building our national infrastructure backbone. It is almost 86% completed, and we’ll ensure that the remaining 14% should be closed by the middle of 2014. So if you have issues with connectivity in Ghana, it would be your last mile. Depending on where you are located, access to bandwidth is very easy. We also have a very liberalized telecom industry with six operators and our regulator, which is the National Communication Authority, is very, very concerned with competition and not just that, but also the quality of service.
We have five submarine and land cables on the shores of Ghana. The government has invested so much in building our national infrastructure backbone. It is almost 86% completed, and we’ll ensure that the remaining 14% should be closed by the middle of 2014.
With many investment opportunities in Africa today, what makes Ghana unique?
PINKRAH-SAM: Ghana is a gateway to Africa and also the destination to Africa. That is to say that if you want to come to Africa, you have to come through Ghana, and when you get to Ghana there will be no other place to go to. We are the friendliest people on the continent and I want to add to that, that actually globally we are the friendliest people. Ghana is so safe. The nightlife is busy and safe. You can walk on the street in Ghana’s cities. Besides that, we have stability. When you talk about politics, our political stability is mind blowing. Looking at what actually went on a couple of months ago where there was a court issue between the leading opposition and the sitting President, which went on for eight good months, and there was not a single conflict that evolved out of that. That is something that we pride ourselves in so much as Ghanaians and Africans. If you have any investment to do, this is the place to go.
When you talk about investment, definitely looking at transparency is critical. I’ll tell you, we have a million and one reasons to come to Ghana. Our regulations are transparent, and exportation of your income is allowed. We have giant companies that you can partner with. We give you a one-stop avenue for your business regulations, your tax regulations, and permits are easier to obtain. Much and most importantly, we have a very safe environment. You know, Africa is noted for mosquitoes and malaria, and all of that. In Ghana, access to medical facilities is very easy and we have direct flights, just in case of an emergency. If for instance, you leave your family behind at home, and you're in Ghana working and you have to go back. You're now thinking of having to book a flight that wouldn’t take you three days to get back. From Ghana, you can fly directly to England, to America, and to Australia. And of course, we have safe drinking water, and talk about our meals, delicious.