The digital transformation of our civil service is not a luxury, it is a necessity and government’s effort to digitalise its economy has undoubtedly come a long way with some achievements to share. In recent times, almost every citizen or business in the country interact with one or more digital service in our daily activities.
The dependency of technology in our lives is ever growing thanks to the fast approaching fourth industrial revolution and we must all embrace this new way of living and doing business by acquiring the necessary technological skills to enhance and improve productivity.
Bearing this in mind, the government through the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation (MoCD) has invested heavily and continue to invest in the efforts to digitalise the economy. Most of these investment by government is to provide the needed infrastructure and the enabling environment and framework that will allow all other sectors within the public sector to also digitalise and automate the delivering of their mandate.
As part of processes of building Ghana’s digital transformation agenda for national development, the Ministry has over years put in place measures to implement key initiatives in line with government’s vision to empower and build civil and public sectors with skills in Information and Communication Technology (ICTs) with the goal of encouraging workers to lead the adoption of ICTs in the various institutions to promote transparency, accountability, efficiency and effective service delivery.
Launch of DigSMART – Digital Skills Training for Public Sector Workers
On Wednesday, March 29, 2023, the Sector Minister, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful (MP), chaired an informative leadership meeting with representatives from Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs) including the Office of the President, Office of the Head of Civil Service, Ministry of Finance & Economic Planning, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Food & Agriculture, Ministry of Trade & Industry, Ministry of Local Government & and Rural Planning and others.
The Strategic witnessed the launched of a $1.2 million digital skills training programme, named DigSMART, a programme developed by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change (TBI) in partnership with the GhanaCARES “Obaatanpa” Programme’s Delivery Unit, of MoCD.
The training was to ensure that participants were equipped the necessary skills to identify problem where digital technology could provide solutions, develop measurable and attainable goals, and execute digital projects that will prioritize the Ghanaian citizen’s needs and experiences.
Launching the maiden pilot programme for the first batch of 170 public and civil service workers selected the various MDAs, Mrs. Ursula Owusu-Ekuful, indicated that “as we are developing a new digital economy policy, we have put forward a vision with a key outcome to enable efficient delivery of government services, hence, the objective of DigSMART or Digital Smartness is to build digital skills, culture and leadership within the public sector to determine a more cohesive and accelerated digital transformation, for service delivery”.
The Minister said “we anticipate the need for change management in the adoption of a new way of working within government as well as to be effective in delivering inclusive, citizen-centric, secure digital services”.
She said that the DigSMART would also fast track Digitalisation so that public sector workers become more effective in their service delivery, It will cultivate a digital-first culture and develop visionary leaders who are adept at navigating tech policy.
The DigSMART is the first of its kind to developed and brought the three (3) African countries and starting with Ghana as a pioneer and to be followed by Malawi and Senegal.
Training Modules and lessons Learnt
The training was implemented over a six-month (6) period from April to September 2023 at the Ghana-Indian Kofi Annan Centre of Excellence in ICT (GI-KACE), an agency under the ministry and Ghana’s first Advanced Information Technology Institute charged with the task of stimulating growth in the ICT Sector in ECOWAS. Beneficiaries were grouped under various levels – 60 Officers Cohort, 70 Management Cohort and 40 Leadership Cohort.
The training covered various aspect of digital skills and knowledge necessary for leadership and transformation in government.
Participant had the opportunity to learn about digital strategy; digital leadership & governance; digital transformation; digital change management principles and processes; management systems as well as digital communication, participation and collaboration tools.
Beneficiaries also delved into emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (ToT), Metaverse and their applications.
At the end of the programme, participants were divided into groups and tasked to undertake capstone projects which forms part of the requirement for graduating the course.
Some outstanding 10 individuals and were also rewarded with a 2-day trip to Kigali, Rwanda to participate in a Masterclass programme.
Clarion Call on Graduates by partners
The Minister observed that in celebrating the pioneer graduates of DigSMART “we are not only acknowledging your individual achievements, but also the collective strides we are making towards a more digital empowered civil service.
Mrs. Owusu-Ekuful said “I expect these graduates to be change champions in their organizations providing visionary leadership, promoting digital solutions in the public and civil service, and demonstrating exemplars on tech transformation and policy.”
“You are at the fore-front helping form the way we work in civil and the public service. It is not enough to assume that you will know what to do to roll-out digital initiatives. Sometimes we make the mistake thinking that public servant appointed to positions organically acquire the knowledge and skills that they need to undertake their obligations”.
“Have the requisite skills to guide the process of moving from largely manual processes to digitalized workplaces”.
The Head of Civil Service, Dr. Evans Aggrey-Darkoh, challenged the pioneer DigSMART participants to be torchbearers of the digital transformation of the civil service.
He charged them to ensure that technology becomes the vehicle that enables their success for being DigSMART and harnessing digital prowess for the greater good.
“It is important that we strife in this digital age, “We have to cultivate our ability to use technology and also inform actions to create new opportunities, solve problems in the quest for developments and we need to bridge the inequality and quality gap to solve unemployment problems and reduce poverty tremendously”.
The Chief Director, Ministry of Finance, Madam, Eva Mends said “Government over the past years have been making strategic interventions to fast-track digitalization initiatives”.
“These are towards a robust digital economy. This supports and accelerates the development of our country’s communication and digitalization infrastructure to support the country as a regional hub for digital services. I am looking forward to more training so that all of us are well-equipped to ensure Ghana has a better economy. As digital empowered civil servants, you are entrusted with safeguarding the digital assets and information of our government, and citizens,”.
Daniel Busscher, Senior Advisor of Digital and Tech Transformation, explained that DigSMART (a contraction of Digital Smartness), “was branded and first launched in Ghana in March 2023, as a flagship programme for Tony Blair Digital Academy. It aims to build digital skills, culture, and leadership in the public sector to achieve a more cohesive and accelerated digital transformation in Ghana.”
He commented that the midterm evaluation of the programme showing a 95.29% participation rate, was encouraging enough for an up-scaling of the programme.
Piloted simultaneously in Ghana, Senegal, and Malawi. DigSMART will expand in 2024 to train an additional eight hundred and thirty (830) public and civil servants in Ghana, alone.
With the lesson learnt from the pilot programme’s monitoring and evaluation, DigSMART has been adapted for efficient upscaling and the Ministry together with TBI are committed to increasing the number to 1000 participants by end of 2023.
The DigSMART programme is one of the many by the Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation to further its goal of promoting the development of Ghana into a knowledge-based country, with a smart economy using digital tools.
By Aliyah Bayali Musah, Deputy Head, PR, Ministry of Communications and Digitalisation