No matter how you look at it, technology and communication continue to converge and expand. It is no longer just talk about what the future may hold. It is already here. A lack communications infrastructure may soon do more to limit the prosperity of a region or its peoples than having one will increase it.
It was with considerable anticipation, therefore, that the Eastern Corridor Fibre Optic Broadband Backbone project was launched at the end of September. It is rather long, but perhaps 680 kilometres of fibre optic wiring warrant such a lengthy name.
Alcatel-Lucent, a communications giant from Denmark will manage the 38 million euro project to cover 27 municipal and district assemblies stretching from Ho in the Volta Region to Bawku. Estimated completion of the project is December 2013.
The aim of this project is to facilitate government service delivery in the more remote parts of the country. Not surprisingly, concerned have been raised over its completion should there be a change in government at the end of this year. Those fears were addressed at the ground breaking ceremony in Ho last month.
While ordinary citizens may be dismayed by the focus on governmental service delivery, this is only the beginning. The spin off effect creates opportunities for businesses and entrepreneurs to set up shop in corners of the country previously deemed unsuitable for business development.
Looking back to April this year, it looks as though this is the first substantial step in answering the questions raised at a youth summit hosted in Accra. Sponsored by the World Bank this forum aimed at youth employment identified a major shift in employment trends. Previously the youth of Ghana expected formal sector employment to be linked directly to governmental positions, or at least funding. These days, the youth look for private sector development.
It is a significant shift in mindset, and potentially one that springs from increased communication and technological development. It certainly feeds into the desire to develop greater infrastructure. One of the key concerns brought forth in the April discussions was the need for a government regulated environment that enabled business development.
Link this into new initiatives created by the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP) which provide entrepreneurial training aimed at keeping Ghanaian youth in the country – and turning them from employees to employers.
It is something to think about. With regional support infrastructure, and indeed the development of employment economies in areas where trade has performed largely in the informal sectors, or family owned businesses means the socio-economic pressure placed on Accra may just be alleviated.
While it may not halt the need for the circular migration of university educated Ghanaians, it does suggest a greater range of economic choices. And, it provides a stable future for those who want a return to Ghana, but do not desire the fierce competition for business in the big city.
And, it can only grow from here. The fibre optic project is labelled as a backbone for a reason. It will spread into new supports and eventually into hands that reach the people. Completion is not that far away, and it truly seems as though the future is now.