Lack of trust in local IT developers by banks and other companies to manage their Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) continue to remain a problem that impedes the successes of the industry, Chief Executive Officer of Afrifanom Limited, Nana Osei Kwasi-Afrifa has said.
According to him, the lack of trust pertains not just in the private sector but the public sector as well, indicating that the biggest and juiciest government contracts in IT are reserved for foreign companies and foreigners in general.
Delivering a keynote address on the theme “Ghana’s Data Space: Localization, Protection And Economisation” at the 3rd edition of Ghana Internet Conference (GIC) organized by Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA), Mr. Afrifa indicated that most of the IT solutions are managed by foreigners and not Ghanaians.
“Of the 20 plus banks in Ghana, none has a fully owned and fully managed Ghanaian Banking Solution or ERP system. None of the big firms in Ghana run any meaningful Ghanaian IT Solution. When you ask why, the often-cited reason is previous experience that they had done a similar one in another country. Most often, these companies have executed only one in their own native country and nowhere else. If they have had the opportunity within their countries to operate and gain experience, why are we being denied same?” he questioned.
Stressing on the effect of mistrust, he indicated that it has become pervasive that the IT entrepreneurs have bought into it; so much that the only way a local IT firm can win a contract is to partner with a foreign company.
“There are many times when a hardware vendor bidding for an IT Solution that requires software development could easily have contacted a company like Afrifanom and partnered with us but instead, will spend months looking for a foreign partner to enhance their chances. The sad thing about these partnerships is that the local company makes a maximum of 30%. In fact, they usually make 10-15%,” he stated.
He stated that his company had to partner a UK IT company to bid to win the National Digital Addressing Contract, stating that the lack of trust has led to the detriment of the Ghanaian IT entrepreneur. He added that very few Ghanaian businesses in the IT sector can boast of multi-million-cedi.
Mr. Afrifa advised that it is necessary to protect data as the digital economy gets stimulated. He praised the Data Protection Agency (DPA) for their enormous contribution to safeguarding data in the country and cautioned them to desist from losing focus.
“The Data Protection Commission is also doing its bit in making rules about handling of data. However, the DPC must and I am glad I am seeing it, take a break from wanting to make too much money off an industry that is struggling to sustain itself,” he said.
The President and Board Chair for GISPA, Richard Densu stressed on the importance of data to businesses especially when technology is taking over everything.
“Most of us would agree that today, Data is the new oil and one of the most valuable modern assets any nation or business could have. Data coupled with the tools of analytics and economics are being used to solve some of the complex social issues in the areas of health, education, utility provision, poverty alleviation, corruption amongst many others,” he said.
According to Mr. Densu conferences like GIC brings up important issues that needs to be tackled both as an industry and as a nation, stating that the results of the discussions help affects decision making.
The Ghana Internet Service Providers Association (GISPA) is a professional, non-profit trade association representing the interest of local ISPs and other internet providers.
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