Mr Speaker, thank you very much. I must say that I am extremely grateful for the opportunity given me, not only because of the unprecedented achievements of this Government within the short period of 22 months, but confident in the fact that for the first time in our history, we have a government that believes in putting our money and actions for the benefit and prosperity of this country, and not being a dead goat government.
Mr Speaker, we have a government that is committed to ensuring that never again should we throw our hands in despair or rise up to the darkness with no hope. We are going to live with the hope and the knowledge that very soon, our future and destiny would be in our own hands.
Mr Speaker, before I zoom in on the Communication sub-sector, I would want to remind my Hon Colleagues about the employment issue. Records from SSNIT indicate that there have been over 220,000 proper jobs created in the economy.
The Government sector has also employed over 88,000 and financial clearance has been given for over 88,000 and when we top it up with the 100,000 created by Nation Builders Corps (NABCO), we are talking of real opportunity and not exploitation.
I believe that any opportunity that gives those who were hitherto in the Graduate Unemployment Association to get some disposable income to impact their lives is one which they cherish and
it is not about the exploitation that our Hon Colleague on the other Side would like everybody to believe in.
Mr Speaker, indeed, I believe that the achievements of this Government so far are there for all to see.
Mr Speaker, when it comes to the realisation of the key role of ICT and Technology of building a very unique, robust, and all-comprehensive digital ecosystem, this is the Budget Statement that is giving us the opportunity. This is the Budget Statement that is giving us vision; where the Government is seeing technology as the main driver of our prosperity and our journey towards Ghana beyond aid.
Mr Speaker, my Hon Colleagues spoke about infrastructure. I would want to assure them that this Government realises the role that ICT plays, and the role that opening up the unserved and underserved areas of the economy — and making sure that every corner of this country has access and is connected to the digital world. This is what the Government is pursuing.
Mr Speaker, let me please refer us to paragraph 749 of the Budget Statement, and I beg to read with your permission:
“Mr Speaker, the Ministry through GIFEC established 400 telephony sites to provide voice signals to 2,000 underserved and unserved communities to bridge the digital divide.”
Mr Speaker, the “digital divide”, if my Hon Colleagues do not understand what it means, is to ensure that we do not centre the benefits of technology only in the big cities. Bridging the digital divide is to ensure that through digital literacy and through access to connectivity, all these underserved areas come into the digital economy, and this is what this government is doing.
Mr Speaker, it is worth noting, and I would want my Hon Colleagues to know that for the eight years of the NDC Government, it only provided 78 telephony sites. We have provided 400 telephony sites, bringing over 2,000 communities to accelerate the digital and connect the rest of the country.
As specified in the same paragraph 749, we are again to provide additional 600 telephony sites which would connect over 1,800 communities. This is a government with vision and it wants to harness the benefits of ICT.
Mr Speaker, I wish to proceed to paragraph 750. This Government inherited a mere paper; National Cyber Security on Policy Strategy. A paper which was even a stillbirth. Since we came into Government, we have rewind the National Cyber Security Policy and Strategy and have come up with a policy which is the envy of the whole of Africa.
Mr Speaker, when we go back to paragraph 750, we talked about the establishment of Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the NCA, we have done that for the Bank of Ghana.
Mr Speaker, it is important that in building the whole ecosystem, the issue about cyber security and the achievements of this Government is brought to bear.
We have established the institutional framework, the National Cyber Security Awareness Programme, to ensure that the citizenry know that in the accelerated development of this country and digitalisation of this country, which is evident by the EID, the paperless clearing ports, the digital property addressing system, and the numerous interoperability
systems that we have established, we are also aware of cyber security. And this is why the establishment of the CERT is key.
Mr Speaker, we can go on and on about data protection and why we are ensuing that our citizens and not only the networks, or the Apps, but also the data, which data collectors collect in this country are also protected.
Mr Speaker, I was surprised when my Hon Colleague who spoke before me spoke about the public sector.
Mr Speaker, I would want to refer him to paragraph 748 again, where the issues of e-Justice, e-Immigration and con- necting all the Districts as highlighted by my Hon Minister would come into play.
Definitely, Mr Speaker, Ghana is working again. We do not want to be bypassed by the industrial revolution. We want to ensure that we use technology to leapfrog our development and to ensure that our citizenry also benefit from technology.
Mr Speaker, I wish to zoom in on the ICT capacity development. This Government inherited a gap in the ICT day celebration. The previous Government only celebrated Girls in ICT for one day. Since we took Government, we have moved from “Girls in ICT Week” to “Girls in ICT Month”.
Last year alone, under the “Girls in ICT Week”, 600 girls from the Ashanti Region were given the training opportunity in the basics of coding and true mentorship.
Mr Speaker, this Government is committed to ensuring that this country does not only remain consumers but producers of technology. That is why we are reviving the Community Information Centres (CICs) which were run down and