· Moses Baiden’s address at the Ghana CEO Summit, 2017.
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently … Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”
Steve Jobs often comes to mind whenever I teach courses or do presentations in “Leadership and Critical Thinking”. Jobs’s remarks form a default mind booster whenever I find myself with a skeptical audience, those so passively contented with the status quo that any idea of change scares the living daylights out of them.
The Digital Revolution
In that vein, how refreshing it was when Moses Kwesi Baiden Jnr of Margins Group mailed me a keynote address he delivered at the “Ghana CEO Summit, Accra” 22nd – 23rd May, 2017. The title was “Digital Innovation Economy for Business Growth: A dialogue on how business and government can work together to foster innovation and expand opportunities”.
He noted that “revolution” in the political parlance and context is a scary word, but its Latin root merely means “to turn around.” He said, “Mr. President, you have asked us not to be spectators in the governance of our country and we hear you. We cannot in this 4th industrial revolution be spectators or sit by to import knowledge and systems wholesale without Ghanaian industry and business’ significant participation. Our companies must invest in knowledge in this 4th revolution to grow wealth here in Ghana and keep it here, and our government must create the environment to promote our companies, based on merit and performance.”
Government and private sector collaboration
In detailing how government and the private sector can collaborate and innovate to benefit from the digital economy, Baiden listed the following key concerns (slightly edited):
- National ID and Addressing System
I applaud the government for taking steps to kick-start the national ID project and digital addressing system to create the trust infrastructure so crucial to a modern-day digitisation economy. These two initiatives are critical and key components of a holistic digitisation infrastructure.
Government services delivered efficiently and cost effectively to the citizens without frustrations, delays and time wasting and bribes, depend on a fundamental database with individual’s relevant data and biometrics attached to a unique number, from cradle to grave, identifying positively citizens and foreigners and delivering their rights, duties, privileges and obligations due them digitally in real time.
This foundation will usher us into the digitised e-government ecosystem for delivery of government services. Government must partner with the private sector to push for this in order to deliver government services like Passports, Vehicle registrations, Drivers’ license, Taxes, Fines, Land titles, Housing, Local Government, Performance tracking, Health, justice, Elections, Budgeting, Crime detection and prevention – in real time.
This 4th Industrial revolution whose factors of production are knowledge and brain power more than the traditional Land, Labour and Capital gives us a tremendous opportunity. We can teach our young population, armed with digital devices, to build digital applications that will create the global companies of today and tomorrow and teach our people to scale globally without infrastructure, a phenomenon described in the new business jargon as, ‘INFRASTRUCTURELESS SCALING’ which describes the new digital companies like:
UBER – the biggest taxi company without taxis; GOOGLE – the world’s biggest library with no shelves of books; FACEBOOK – the world’s biggest publisher with no newspapers; AIRBnB – the world’s biggest hotel with no hotel rooms; SNAPCHAT – the world’s biggest photo studio with no cameras.
From Amazon’s retail revolution and Netflix, the world’s biggest movie theatre with no theatres, giant global companies are being built – right under our watch – in university labs and garages with new knowledge and new tools. We can and must harness this opportunity. This knowledge is available in virtual classrooms to all.
Economic impact of digitisation
Ghana can double the digitisation index score for the poorest citizens over 10 years, and move us to the first world in a decade.
According to research, if emerging markets could double the Digitization Index score for their poorest citizens over the next 10 years, the result would be a global US$4.4 trillion gain in nominal GDP, an extra US$930 billion in the cumulative household income for the poorest, and 64 million new jobs for today’s socially and economically most marginal groups. This would enable 580 million people to climb above the poverty line. All aspects of our lives will be significantly improved by digitising our economy.
Mobile and digital money payments, supply chain management, access to capital loans, interest rates, agriculture and commodity exchanges, stock markets, transport business and industrial efficiencies will all be greatly enhanced and this will increase the velocity of economic expansion and wealth creation in our country.
According to the consulting firm Booz Group, digitisation provided an additional US$193 billion to the world economy and 6 million jobs worldwide in 2011. The most advanced economies (North America and Western Europe) accounted for approximately 29 percent of the output gain, but just 6 percent of the employment impact. Emerging economies accounted for 71 percent of the gain in gross domestic product (GDP) and 94 percent of the global employment impact. Booze Group further revealed that an increase of 10 percent in a country’s digitization score fuels a 0.75 percent growth in its GDP per capita.
[To be continued]