Let us uncover our digital journey as a nation by asking ourselves some very important questions. Have we been able to evolve a tech ecosystem that is self-improving and that delivers the critical basics we need to run a digital nation? Do we have a strong foundation on which we can build a digital strategy that is nimble, scalable, standardized and adaptable to now and future trends? Do we have the advocacy network and specialized industry groups plus partners who play the valuable role to guide and guard national and digital business players’ interests in the Ghanaian economy? Simply put, do we have a digital vision as a country and has this vision been articulated and made visible to all and sundry? Is the vision compelling and attractive to investors, enthusiasts, and stakeholders in the tech ecosystem? Does the vision make us competitive? Is the vision able to get the nation to the level that will make Ghanaians churn out the kind of innovation that will make our lives great? Can the national digital vision, put us in a position to export our success to other nations and locations across the world including space?
In creating a national digital transformation blueprint that is sound, time-responsive and aligned to evolving social-cultural and people needs, we need a leader to set a national vision for our digital transformation aspiration and journey. In our current circumstances we need the president of our country, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, to set a national vison on which our nation’s digital transformation blueprint shall be couched, architected, implemented and lived by the people. The mantle to put together a national digital vison lies with the president, obviously in connection with the aspirations and needs of the Ghanaian people and in accordance with modern trends and future direction of how technology will evolve.
We need to set a National Vision that is audacious, long-term and that seeks to improve the everyday lives of everyday people. In carving our national digital vision, we also need to consider where we want to be positioned on the global technology landscape. One of the key questions we need to answer as nation is: Which part of the global innovation narrative do we want to own? In the past decade and more, Kenya has owned the fintech narrative all over the world through the success of MPESA. China owns global tech manufacturing and India owns the outsourcing and software engineering landscape. What does Ghana want to own? How do we want to be positioned? What one technology or innovation should be best sourced from Ghana and not anywhere else? What global problem which is also local to us can we solve, be the benchmark and export our successes to other places in the world and beyond? Can Ghana be the Aggrotech hub of the world, even by simply focusing on our cocoa industry and innovating around the practices which have kept us as top 2 cocoa producers in the world for many decades? Can Ghana be the Healthtech hub of the world? Can Ghana be the Govtech hub of the world by transforming our democratic credentials into digital innovations that we can export? Can Ghana be the EdTech hub of the world, taking advantage of the many people who travel all over Africa to come to Ghana to acquire education? Can Ghana be the Hospitalitytech hub of the world? Which of our best attributes as a nation do we or can we leverage to stand out in the digital public square?
What I am alluding is, Vision precedes Action. Vision is the sinew around which we flesh our digital blueprint as a nation.
A simple vision could be, “Ghana would be the Smartest Nation in the World by the year 2050”.
In essence, Ghana can utilize Artificial Intelligence (AI), Cognitive Computing, best tools and best practices to deal with every kind of social problem or aspiration with the ultimate goal of enriching the lives of Ghanaians through valuable experiences. Technology is only relevant if it significantly simplifies and adds value to people’s lives. Technology is only relevant if it is people-driven. Technology only works if it mimics social orthodoxies in a way that does not make people feel inhibited in pursuit of their goals and needs when they use it. Looking ahead, a solid ground is always required to proposition Ghana’s technology aspirations and situate Ghana’s digital future. A powerful national vision for our digital future is the tiniest fundamental we need to proceed.
Having carved a national vision for our digital transformation blueprint, Ghana has to develop a National Digital Transformation and Innovation Architecture (NDTIA). In conceptualizing and designing Ghana’s Digital and Innovation Architecture, there should be a deliberate consideration to make the technology stack Open and community-playable. To put it tactically, Ghana should create an Open Innovation Stack and Community-Playable Digital Infrastructure (OISCDI). That is our NDTIA should be capable of allowing all ecosystem players who fundamentally have an interest to generate new innovations or create services on top of the infrastructure to integrate and access its features and protocols with minimal inhibition. Of course, enthusiasts or interested innovators should definitely meet all required criteria and framework-access protocols.
More importantly, our primary inclination for building a smart digital nation should be a very Open mindset towards its architecture. This requires significant amount of effort to be pushed towards driving the innovation and economic transformation agenda through Open Innovation Stack and Community-Playable Digital Infrastructure (OISCDI). OISCDI refers to the kind of innovation economy built on top of open and accessible technology backbone, standards and frameworks. This national digital architectural direction will assume that innovation is infinite and insatiable. At its core, the architects of our NDTIA would have to keep an open mind on future possibilities. Ghana’s National Digital Transformation and Innovation Architecture will focus on broadening the innovation base for the ecosystem by enabling access to individuals with track record in digital innovation, researchers and communities who show interest in building services on top of Ghana’s NDTIA. In the pursuit of Ghana’s digital dreams and innovation blueprint, the Government will provide the backbone infrastructure. In return, communities of private sector players, individuals and other stakeholders will use their time, know-how and resources to extend the capabilities of the innovation infrastructure. This is the deal, Open Innovation Stack and Community-Playable Digital Infrastructure will ease the path and make it simple to find digital solutions to our everyday problems as a country. The question to tease is: Where do we start from?
Stay tuned for the 4th edition of this series.