Clement Dzidonu is President of AIT-The University of the Future, Accra. He is a member of the Council of the Informatics Development Institute, Ireland and a Senior Research Fellow of the International Institute of Information Technology (INIIT). He has also taught and conducted research at several renowned universities abroad and worked for a number of information-and- communication-technology-related projects and initiatives in Europe and Africa. These include work for governments, companies, NGOs and international agencies – including the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the International Development Research Center (IDRC) Commission of Experts for the West and Central Africa Region. During the past 18 years, he has been involved in a number of information and communication technology (ICT) related projects and initiatives in Europe and Africa for a number of Governments companies and international agencies. He is currently a Consultant to the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) advising a number of African Governments on their National Information and Communications Technology Policies and Plans. He is a member of the International Development Research Center (IDRC) Commission of Experts for the West and Central Africa Region, Chairman of the National ICT Policy and Plan Development Committee, Ghana and member of the United Nations Global Alliance for ICT for Development (GAID) High-Level Advisory Committee.
eLA: Professor Dzidonu, Ghana is often cited as a ‘role model’ in ICT application for Africa. Do you agree and where do you see the main assets?
Clement Dzidonu: To put it more modestly, Ghana is making some progress in this area following the lead of countries like Rwanda. I happened to be involved in the Rwanda process, developing the ICT policy and the plan, as well as playing a leading role in the Ghana process as Chairman of the National ICT Policy and Plan Development Committee. I also developed the Ghana ICT for Accelerated Development – the so-called ICT4AD Policy. Resting upon these experiences, I think the progress being made is quite substantial. Nevertheless, we have to keep the ball for the simple reason that we cannot create quality jobs and we cannot generate real wealth without information technology.
eLA: Stable ICT infrastructures are key to the implementation of eLearning in all sectors. How would you evaluate the efforts of the Ghanaian government towards a national ICT-strategy?
Clement Dzidonu: Though Ghana is not yet there as far as ICT infrastructure is concerned, it has been able to chalk up some successes. The Ghana ICT4AD Policy did lay emphasis on ICT infrastructure development among other things. The explosion of mobile telephony in Ghana in the last couple of years has been due to the policy. The government is also in the process of laying a fibre backbone network to cover the entire country. A number of private-sector initiatives in the area of infrastructure development are being aided by the conducive and enabling legal and regulatory regime put in place by the government as part of implementing the commitments of the ICT4AD Policy.
eLA: Who is driving e-learning in Ghana, the higher education sector or businesses?
Clement Dzidonu: eLearning is just about to take off in Ghana, and in this context higher education is the most likely driver. Today, educators in Ghana are aware that they must think of how to produce more technically literate graduates who create more for employers and Ghana’s economy. eLearning has become an indispensable tool for modern universities and our institutions have to accept the challenge. Universities like AIT, which is technology focused, and some of the other universities and private-sector training providers are likely to become the market leaders in a year or two. AIT, for example, will launch its AIT-Online programme this year to provide access to over 5,000 eLearning courses to the Ghanaian public including the corporate sector.
eLA: Within AIT Business School, what kind of training are you offering for what target groups?
Clement Dzidonu: The AIT Business School is targeting MBA programmes, professional development programmes, as well as a number of technology-for-business professional courses. Some of these programmes are offered at AIT campus-based or on AIT-Online.
eLA: What is the status of technology-enhanced training in Ghanaian corporations?
Clement Dzidonu: This is just beginning to take up within the private sector. The leading corporations are the banks and some of the large services sector organisations. The public sector is just about to come on board.
eLA: Do you also see an e-potential in Ghana to generate revenue?
In Ghana, an increasing number of people committed to ICT and software development are taking interest in creating software clusters. Meanwhile, there are some focal points that are experiencing very dynamic development. Think tanks like the Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT, Accra, for example, are about to create and sell innovative market-oriented products and services. The Kofi Annan Centre also serves as an incubator where new private companies in the industry can be nurtured and later relocated to technology parks. I hope that lighthouse projects like this attract more and more emulators.
eLA: Dear Professor Dzidoun, thank you very much!
The Accra Institute of Technology http://ait.edu.gh
Beate Kleessen, Nina Wittrock