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Digital, green transition won’t happen without cheap financing

Source The Ghana Report

The country’s bid to transition into a digital and green economy, ensuring efficient use of resources and maximum output, will not materialise unless steps are expedited to ease access to finance at reasonable rates, say experts.

At a broader level, they said that huge investments in infrastructure, technology and skills training, among other areas, are required for the digital and green economy transition to occur – underscoring the urgent need for a shift in policy direction to facilitate the process.

The expert – including Prof. Peter Quartey of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana; Prof. Charles Ackah, also of ISSER; Gideon Mankralo, National Programme Officer, International Labour Organisation, Ghana; and Prof. Agyapomaa Gyeke-Dako, a senior lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School – said this at the Future of work Research Initiative for Central and West Africa launch in Accra.

Prof. Ackah explained the critical need for cheap financing if the country is to transition smoothly. From helping farmers adopt new technologies and expand their operations, to enabling individuals and businesses – particularly small and medium-sized enterprises – to cross the bridge between survival and efficiency, he said finance is needed in every step of the process.

“The investment needed to establish physical infrastructure for a smooth transition remains a challenge. About 30 percent of the population are illiterate according to the last census. How can we retrain them to read and write for the digital economy?

“Average incomes in the public sector are poor, which could hurt the transition process. We need to ensure proper income to pay people who can work. All these are issues of finance, which unfortunately we don’t have,” he added.

Mr. Mankralo, for his part, acknowledged the issues with existing jobs such as temporary positions, lack of social protection and the absence of contracts.

“We are hopeful that the new labour law being developed will address these issues related to job quality,” he added.

Prof. Agyapomaa Gyeke-Dako, a senior lecturer at the University of Ghana Business School, called for a shift in training young people to enable them seize opportunities during the transition journey.

“Students lack the soft skills needed to take advantage of digital opportunities. We do our best to train them, but because of the large numbers we are unable to focus on these skills. The focus must shift to problem-solving and leadership skills,” she said.

“Another area to address is encouraging young people to network. Students need to understand that they are the next generation of leaders, so they need to network and build connections they can rely on in the future,” she explained.

Launch of IDRC-FoW Research Initiative

The International Development Research Centre (IDRC)-backed Future of Work Initiative for Central and West Africa, themed ‘Digital Technologies, Climate Change Mitigation and the Future of Work in Agri-Based Economies in Central and West Africa: A Research Agenda’, seeks to improve the quality of data available to aid evidence-based decision-making.

It is specifically intended to help governments and the private sector in Central and West Africa identify opportunities and challenges during the transition journey and, most importantly, ensure a just transition.

The IDRC-Future of Work (FoW) Research Initiative project will provide sub-grants to research institutions and industry players to undertake research on how digital technologies can be leveraged to create employment opportunities in the green and gig economy, especially for marginalised groups in West and Central Africa.

This five-year initiative project will be funded by the International Development Research Centre and managed by the Institute of ISSER.

“Youth unemployment is a growing concern, but we also see digital technology creating new opportunities. So, where are these opportunities? Where are the limitations? What can the government do?

“This initiative will provide funding and training for young people and researchers to explore these areas and offer suggestions to policymakers. Over the next five years we will be working across West and Central Africa, not just limited to Ghana and Senegal,” Prof. Quartey commented.

Explaining further, he said: “We aim to bring together people from interdisciplinary perspectives to produce cutting-edge research. In Ghana, many initiatives are not backed by research and policy, which can lead to policy reversals. We’ve seen many taxes and policies introduced and then reversed. With research-backed decisions, we can predict outcomes and address social impacts more effectively”.

He announced that the launch marked an official call for proposals.

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