The National Association of Secretarial and Internet Café Operators, Ghana (NASICOG) was over the weekend launchedto provide a common front to promote their activities in a professional way, and to seek the general welfare of its members.
Launched on the theme “Ghana’s Digitalisation Agenda, the Role of Internet Café Operators and Secretarial Service Providers”, the association seeks to help the government meet its digitalisation agenda to the desired expectations.
The Association which was formed in October last year with about 1,695 members across the country is seeking partnerships, investors and recognition in the country.
Speaking at the launch, NASICOG National President, Mr Bruce Thomas Suallah, said the emergence of technological devices such as tablets, laptops, and mobile phones were negatively affecting their business.
He stated that internet cafes were still key towards achieving Ghana’s digitalisation agenda in the educational sector saying “since most schools were not furnished with computer laboratories, the internet cafes will help with digital literacy.”
“The services of internet café operators are very essential because it is cost effective; not everyone can afford a personal computer or smart digital devices at home to assist them in the running of their affairs, however these internet café operators offer their services at lower cost that eases the burden of the Ghanaian people,” he added.
He called on all institutions and agencies with online systems to organise workshops on how to navigate their online portals, and in turn guide patrons on how to use it.
“We will soon start organising workshops for institutions and agencies that have deployed online services to come and train us on how to effectively use their systems. We appeal to them not to turn down those requests when they come. We also wish to appeal to the Telecos to consider a special package for us since we are a bigger consumer of their data,” he said
The Deputy Minister of Communication and Digitalisation (MCD), MrsAmaPomaaBoateng, in a speech read on her behalf by the Director of Research Statistics and Information Management at the MCD, acknowledged the importance of internet café operators in the various communities as they were a major contributor to digital literacy.
She said communities where digital literacy was low, the services provided by the café operators made them essential parts of the communities due to their cost effective nature and the burden it eases on the ordinary Ghanaian.
“The Cafes and Secretarial service platforms can serve as ICT access points just like the Community Information Centres (CICs) set up by government,” she added.
She revealed that the MCD was developing the Ghana Digital Economy Policy document which was key in ensuring digital skills development in the country.
“Digital Skills Development is the bedrock of any digital transformation agenda and government is therefore focused on strengthening our digital skills base,” she said.
BY CECILIA LAGBA AND CHARLOTTE BARNS