CEO of IT Consortium (ITC), Romeo Bugyei has called on domestic technology industry players to invest heavily in research and make Ghana a leader in technology on the continent.
“We cannot scale up if the government becomes the sole entity putting money into research,” he said, adding “Let’s challenge ourselves as businesses in this country to spend money in research, not just the application of technology but also its development.”
He was speaking at the launch of the 20th Anniversary of IT Consortium in Accra. IT Consortium is the wholly-owned Ghanaian IT company which provides a wide range of digital solutions to both state and private organization in Ghana and four other countries.
Romeo Bugyei noted that government’s investment in critical infrastructure has helped to make the industry thrive, and it is time for the players to scale up by, not only consuming research, but also investing in it to put Ghana on the global map.
He said ITC believes that research and the innovative application of research, will create new technologies to solve the problems of the country.
“As such we are investing heavily in computer vision, blockchain technology, natural language processing and artificial intelligence in general. We believe in creating the future, not waiting for it. We also believe that as a country we must not only be consumers of technology but also producers of it. This can only be achieved through intentional investment in research by the private sector,” he said.
Romeo Bugyei expressed confidence that with the huge digitization drive in the country now being powered by Ghanaian companies and institutions, Ghana is on the right track, and there is hope for the country’s future.
He attributed what he called the exponential growth of ITC and the progress of the entire local technology space to government’s investment in key infrastructure such as power, internet, centralized database systems, reliable identification systems and recently the Ghana Card.
“We also acknowledge the work done by our regulator, the Central Bank, bringing confidence into our space and having an open door policy in their dealings with us,” he said.
The ITC CEO however urged the government to continue to do more so that Ghanaians will progressively own the economy and create hope for the young entrepreneurs in the country.
“If your country believes in you others will listen to you,” he said.
The ITC Boss recalled that the technology landscape has come very far in Ghana from the days when no financial institution would allow an entity like ITC to do a direct integration to their systems, to the present where direct integration is now a necessity for relevance.
He also noted companies have moved from insisting on everything IT installed was installed on their premise but now, connecting to cloud has become a compelling strategy adopted by all, adding that the days of pure cash economy have also given way to a progressive digital economy.
“We have seen the landscape change from the days where bluechip companies would not consider local technology companies to deliver their solutions, to the present where local companies have the opportunity to bid for high profile technology jobs and even win,” he noted.
Romeo Bugyei said the Ghanaian technology companies are now holding their own, not just in Ghana but also selling Ghanaian technology outside the shores of this country.
He said the ITC has survived as a company through collaboration; by not seeking to do everything on their own, but rather focusing on its strengths and relying on the strengths of its partners and even competitors, when need be.
“Even our competitors are our partners, working together to achieve a common goal,” he said.
He therefore urged all industry players to continue to work together and keep their eyes on the bigger picture, which is Ghana, to provide opportunities for the younger generation.
“Let’s believe in this country and work to leave a better technology industry for the future generation,” he said.
ITC was one of three companies that designed Ghana’s national digital payments platform, Ghana.gov. The two others are Hubtel and ExpressPay, both locally-owned fintechs.
Through its Transflow platform, ITC powers digital payment for at least 19 commercial banks, 140 rural banks, telcos and several other corporate organizations in the country and elsewhere.
ITC is the the reason Ghanaians are able to pay utility bills, paid TV services, school fees, apply and pay for passport, drivers license, company registration and make several other payments digitally via either mobile money or even direct from bank accounts.